Looking for a good holiday movie? Stick to the classics. Whatever you do, skip A Christmas Tale by Arnaud Desplechin. This newly released DVD can be found tucked alongside The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Elf, Home Alone, and dozens of other feel-good standards. But donâ€™t be duped. This film doesnâ€™t deserve such good company. The DVD jacket is dressed with quality quotes of positive film reviews, one going so far as to name it â€œ#1 film of the year.â€ Letâ€™s be honest. This is the #1 yawn of the year.
The movie takes place in France, so youâ€™ll need to read subtitles. Itâ€™s about a dysfunctional family: the sister banishes a brother from her life; the mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness; and the grandson is sent to a mental institution. Then the whole family comes together for the holiday, and the viewer must endure their puffy speeches and trying interactions. The only likeable moments are those shared between the outcast son and his mother, whose constant banter about hating one another is clearly their distant manner of sharing affection.
Despite the jacketâ€™s description of the film as a â€œblack comedy,â€ there is truly nothing funny in the entire movie. Any fan of black comedy will be left wondering when the humor will begin. There are no Harold and Maud moments, no Juno wit. This is also not a â€œnew holiday classic,â€ as the jacket claims. Itâ€™s a pompous film with lots of lengthy diatribes, literary references, and deeply artistic moments. The pace is akin to watching a slug cross the room in this overly long, 2.5 hour movie. Itâ€™s reminiscent of dialogue-heavy movies like Rachel Getting Married. Boring!
Don’tÂ get scrooge’d! If you want to be saved from a Cindy Lou Who moment in Whoville, when what you think youâ€™re seeing isnâ€™t truly what it appears, for all that is sacred about holiday movies, please do not rent A Christmas Tale. Your holiday will be merrier for having missed it.