Maybe Charles, who died of leukemia three decades ago, at the age of six, knew what he was doing; he's the only member of the Vuillard family not suffering from an existential or physical malignancy. His death, at any rate, has given the rest of the family an excuse to be unhappy and hateful.
Anarchic Henri (Mathieu Amalric) bears the heaviest burden; born after Charles, he's been rejected by his mother, Junon (Catherine Deneuve), and his older sister, Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), whose teenage son Paul (Émile Berling) keeps up the family tradition by going crazy. Youngest son Ivan (Melvil Poupaud) and dad Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon) struggle to make peace, especially when a holiday reunion turns into a search for a marrow donor because Junon has also developed leukemia.
A twisted Christmas stocking overstuffed with whimsical misery and technical bravura, Arnaud Desplechin's Un conte de Noël could use more of the surreal hilarity of Wes Anderson'sThe Royal Tenenbaums.
French | 152 minutes | Kendall Square