One of the most critically acclaimed films of 2008, Arnaud Desplechin’s family drama “A Christmas Tale,” gets a DVD and Blu-ray release this week, courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
In the LA Times, Dennis Lim gives the film a “second look”: “The setup of ‘A Christmas Tale’ echoes any number of home-for-the-holidays comic melodramas (‘Pieces of April,’ ‘The Family Stone’), down to the feuding siblings and ailing mother. But while its American counterparts run on clockwork, stirring up resentment before wrapping everyone together in a therapeutic group hug, ‘A Christmas Tale’ has no interest in resolving conflicts or rationalizing the contradictory impulses of its volatile characters.”
“This Christmas, no Arnaud Desplechin fan should be without a Blu-ray player,” declares Slant Magazine’s Fernando F. Croce and Ed Gonzalez in their review of Criterion’s DVD. As for extras: “On disc two of DVD appears Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘L’aimée,’ a bittersweet documentary about the sale of his family home and his relationship to his parents. A study of family, possession, and memory, the hour-long film very much anticipates ‘A Christmas Tale.’ Also included on the disc: a thoughtful 35-minute documentary featuring interviews with Desplechin, Amalric, and Catherine Deneuve; original theatrical trailers; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.”
“Mr. Desplechin has a positive genius for making his carefully structured tales seem breathless and aleatory, as if any given film were plucked almost at random from dozens of other possibilities,” observes the New York Times’ A.O. Scott in his review of the film for its theatrical release last year. “The result, in the case of ‘A Christmas Tale,’ is a movie that is almost indecently satisfying and at the same time elusive, at once intellectually lofty — marked by allusions to Emerson, Shakespeare and Seamus Heaney as well as Nietzsche — and as earthy as the passionate provincial family that is its heart and cosmos and reason for being.”
More on the DVD from DVD Town.
Incidentally, Desplechin’s film also shows up at number 9 on Time Out New York’s list of the best 50 films of the decade. Also, check out Desplechin’s recent interview with Wes Anderson, who discusses his latest film, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Proust and Hitchcock.
Watch the trailer for “A Christmas Tale” on YouTube.