Christmas Tale, A (Un conte de NoŽl)

Featured In Issue 145, December 2009

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
The Criterion Collection
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Not Rated
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Color With B/W Sequences
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Anauld Desplechin
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1, PCM 24/48 1.0
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In A Christmas Tale (Un conte de NoŽl), Junon (Deneuve) and Abel (Roussillon) are the parents of three grown children: Elizabeth (Consigny), a melancholic playwright with a mathematician husband and a tortured teenage son, Paul (Berling); Henri (Amalric), the self-destructive black sheep, banished from family events by Elizabeth five years prior; and youngest Ivan (Poupaud), the peacemaker married to the beautiful Sylvia (Mastroianni). Ivan's eldest died from leukemia as a boy. When the disease reappears again in the family, the troubled family gathers at Christmas to discuss who can be a bone marrow transplant donor. That simple family-reunion however, can't begin to describe the unpredictable, emotionally volatile experience that ensues. There is feuding, drunkenness, and bed-hopping, as everyone struggles to make sense of the mysteries of life. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the documentary L'Aimťe (HD 66:04), Arnaud's Taleóa new documentary featuring interviews with Director Desplechin and Actors Amalric and Deneuve (HD 35:59), two theatrical trailers, and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.

The new 2.35:1 1080p AVC transfer was approved by Director Arnaud Desplechin. The transfer was created from a 35 mm interpositive, and artifacts were manually removed, using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system. The picture is stunning, with well-balanced contrast, excellent resolution, and vivid colors. Blacks are deep and solid, and shadow delineation is revealing of depth. The picture presents a natural palette, with warm and rich hues. Fleshtones are accurate throughout. This is a beautifully photographed picture, with dimensional imagery, that won't disappoint. (Gary Reber)

The uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audioô soundtrack has been mastered at 24 bit from original digital audio master files, using Pro Tools HD. The dialogue is perfectly intelligible, with generally good spatial delineation, though, at times the sound is forward and chesty sounding. The music score is nicely recorded, with a wide and deep soundstage extending into the surrounds, with a low-level presence. Surround envelopment is basically limited to the music, but occasionally atmospheric sound effects are present. Overall, this is a nicely presented soundtrack, save for the forward-sounding dialogue. (Gary Reber)