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Status: Completed

Short synopsis

Written and directed by Arnaud Desplechin

Long synopsis

Abel and Junon had two children, Joseph and Elizabeth. Victim of a rare genetic condition, Joseph’s only hope was a bone marrow transplant. As they and Elizabeth were incompatible, his parents conceived a third child in the hope of saving their son. But little Henri too was unable to help his brother, and Joseph died at the age of seven.

The Vuillard family has never recovered. Many years have passed, and relationships are more strained than ever. In particular, those between Elizabeth, authoritarian head of the family and Henri, a cynical drop out who divides his time between women and drink. After a violent argument, Elizabeth banishes her feckless brother, cutting him off from his nephew, her son Paul – a tortured adolescent beset by serious mental problems.

Junon learns that she is being eaten away by a cancer, and that for her too a bone marrow transplant is the only hope. Her children and grandchildren all go for tests which reveal only two potential donors: Paul and Henri.

Christmas approaches. The whole family gathers at the splendid parental home. Henri accepts Paul’s invitation and turns up with his latest conquest. It’s time to settle scores. But little by little, the storm calms. Finally reconciled with his family, Henri is chosen as Junon’s donor. And Paul’s new-found happiness allows Elizabeth in her turn a new lease of life.

Masterfully directed and acted, by turns savage, bittersweet, darkly comic and unbearably moving, a christmas tale shows internationally acclaimed Desplechin at the height of his powers.