Festival Nouveau Cinema: Un Conte de Noel

- Advertisement -



conte-noel1

Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale)

Directed by Arnaud Desplechin

Demolishing the Hollywood concept of the holiday film while Four Christmases tears up the North American box office, Arnaud Desplechin’s Un Conte de Noel is a film both intimate and epic, in which the titular holiday works more as an excuse to draw seemingly dozens of plot threads under a single roof. The film acts as a corrective to Tinseltown’s tinsel tales not only due to the lack of sentimentality ascribed to the season, but because of the way it subverts any number of family-dysfunction clichés.

The family in question is the Vuillards, whose feisty, steadfast matriarch Junon (Catherine Deneuve) has been diagnosed with lymphoma, the same disease that claimed her firstborn son Joseph at age four. Husband Abel (Jean-Paul Rousillon) seems to take it in stride, but uses her illness and the coming holiday as a springboard to unite their long-fractured family. At the heart of much of this discord is the rift between their daughter Elizabeth (Anne Cosigny) and their misfit second son Henri (Mathieu Amalric of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Quantum of Solace, running away with the movie). Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s teenage son Paul (Emile Berling) has grown stricken with depression, and Junon’s youngest son Ivan (Melvil Poupad) lives in seeming familial bliss with his beautiful wife Sylvia (Chiara Mastroianni, real-life daughter of Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni) while a secret about their courtship lingers in the periphery.

If the plot sounds crowded, it is, but Desplechin, who also co-penned the script with Emmanuel Bourdieu, finds ways around the convolution, from shadow puppets to first-person asides, dispensed sparingly enough and in such a natural style that it never feels as though he’s broken with his format and never reeks of gimmickry. Desplechin’s greatest strengths, however, lie in his matter-of-factly approach to the family’s troubles and his stellar casting. So many familiar tropes are trotted out – grief over long-lost relatives, terminal illness, sibling rivalry and jealousy – but they’re handled in such a natural, offhand fashion that the conflicts that arise never feel forced, and are never forced into clean resolution. Deneuve of course holds her own, but it’s the supporting cast that truly shines, especially the aforementioned Amalric and Cosigny, as well as Amalric’s slightly mischievous lover Faunia, played by Emmanuelle Devos, acting as a shot of levity for much of the film’s back half.

Evoking Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums in structure and tone but feeling much more authentic as an emotional document of a family in flux, Un Conte de Noel stands as one of the year’s best ensemble efforts and as a reaffirmation of the singularity of France’s best cinema.

Simon Howell.






10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
A Saxophonist with a Saxophone in His Hands
12 Different Types of Saxophones
genre titles mash up
The 13 Types of Movies You Can Choose From (Genres)
Crowd enjoying a concert
19 Types of Entertainment – What Do You Like Doing?
Jennifer Lopez Wearing a Black Dress
25 Celebrities Who Don’t Age – What’s Their Secret?
Zucchini on a Cutting Board
14 Different Types of Zucchini for All Kinds of Dishes
different ice cream
12 Types of Ice Cream (All Forms, Shapes and Options with Examples)
Powdered Sugar in a Bowl and Scoop
10 Different Types of Sugar – I Bet You Don’t Know Them All
Different types of shrimp
17 Different Types of Shrimp that You Can Eat (or Not)
Several semi trucks on the highway
19 Different Types of Trucks – Do You Know Them All?
Airplane soaring through the air
19 Different Types of Airplanes that Dominate the Skies
Cars lined up on the road
26 Types of Cars You Can Choose From for Your Ride
Man Riding Bicycle
11 Types of Bicycles – Do You Know Them All?
15 Different Types of Goggles
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
man holding smartphone with vintage case
11 Types of Cell Phone Cases and Covers to Protect Your Expensive Smartphone
Black and Red Tablet Covers
8 Types of Tablet Cases for Kids, Protection, and Convenience
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting
>