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A Christmas Tale

Blu Ray

  • Score
    68
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • A superb Criterion release of Desplechin's intricate, challenging classic with rich extras.

    A Christmas Tale Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    71
  • The film impresses with its excellent detail, terrific clarity, and consistent contrast, dispelling initial concerns of over-manipulation due to noise reduction.

  • Audio
    68
  • The Blu-ray's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track impresses with its exceptionally high quality, finely layered ambience in crowded scenes, and a focus on clear dialogue.

  • Extra
    61
  • An engaging 20-page booklet by Phillip Lopate and an insightful making-of documentary with Amalric and Deneuve enrich this release.

  • Movie
    73
  • 'A Christmas Tale' offers a unique and intimate storytelling experience, with its numerous confessions and voice-overs blending with a seemingly typical holiday story to create a wonderfully distinct narrative.

    Video: 71

    The Blu-ray presentation of "A Christmas Tale" shines in terms of visual quality, showcasing a remarkable level of detail and clarity that is consistent throughout the movie. This superior visual fidelity complements the film’s intricate narratives and emotional depth, allowing viewers to immerse fully in the story. The contrast levels are maintained with precision, ensuring that both brightly lit scenes and darker moments are presented with equal proficiency. This careful balance enhances the cinematic experience, drawing attention to the filmmakers' mastery in storytelling through visual means.

    Concerns may arise when the term "noise reduction" is mentioned, often leading to apprehensions about potential over-processing and the resultant loss of natural film grain, which can affect the authenticity of the picture. However, these fears are unfounded with this Blu-ray edition. The noise reduction has been applied with such finesse that it does not detract from the original quality of the film. Instead, it contributes to a cleaner, crisper image without compromising on the texture and depth that give celluloid its characteristic warmth. This thoughtful approach preserves the film’s aesthetic integrity while enhancing viewer enjoyment.

    In summary, the Blu-ray presentation of "A Christmas Tale" manages to strike a delicate balance between cleaning up the image and maintaining its original filmic essence. The excellent detail, terrific clarity, and consistent contrast levels all work in harmony to produce a visually stunning experience. Moreover, the careful application of noise reduction techniques ensures that the picture remains clear without sacrificing its natural film qualities. This makes for a viewing that is as close as possible to the director’s vision, offering both enthusiasts and newcomers alike an exceptional home cinema experience.

    Audio: 68

    The audio presentation on the Blu-ray of "A Christmas Tale" is captured through a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which showcases an exceptionally high quality of sound reproduction. This exemplary audio mix ensures that every nuance of the film's extensive dialogue is crisply and clearly articulated, providing an immersive experience that effectively draws the viewer into the intricate dynamics of the family at the heart of this story. The clarity and depth of the sound stage are commendable, with the mix finely balancing between dialogue, background ambience, and the film's score without any element overpowering the others.

    The ambience within the audio track deserves specific mention. The subtle layering of sounds when the family’s home becomes bustling with activity adds a dimension of realism and warmth that enhances the viewing experience. This detailed attention to ambient sounds not only supports but elevates the primarily dialogue-driven narrative, ensuring that the emotional impact of each scene is felt more deeply. This thoughtful sound design complements the intimate storytelling approach, where nuances in tone and atmosphere play critical roles.

    The technical prowess of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track cannot be overstated. It leverages its capabilities to ensure that even in its most dialogue-heavy moments, the film's audio never feels flat or unengaging. Instead, it maintains a dynamic balance that keeps the audience engaged throughout. The track's handling of both the foreground dialogue and background noises showcases a masterclass in audio mixing, proving integral to delivering the film's rich narrative and emotional textures.

    Extra: 61

    The extra features of "A Christmas Tale" Blu-ray presentation enhance the viewing experience by offering a deeper dive into the making of this complex family drama. The included 20-page booklet, featuring Phillip Lopate's insightful essay "The Inescapable Family," provides a thought-provoking exploration of the film's themes and its relation to Lopate's body of work, enriching the viewer's understanding of the narrative's intricacies. Additionally, the making-of documentary is a standout, presenting interviews with director Arnaud Desplechin and key cast members Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve. Shot specifically for this release, it provides an intimate look behind the scenes, offering fans and newcomers alike a unique perspective on the film's production, directly from its creative minds. These features are direct, informative, and essential for anyone looking to fully appreciate the depth of "A Christmas Tale."

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Booklet: A 20-page illustrated booklet containing Phillip Lopate's essay "The Inescapable Family."
    • Making-of Documentary: Featuring English language interviews with Arnaud Desplechin, Mathieu Amalric, and Catherine Deneuve.

    Movie: 73

    A Christmas Tale," in its Blu-ray presentation, unfurls a narrative that is both intimate and intricate in its storytelling technique—a facet that distinctly sets it apart from the conventional holiday film canon. The narrative's depth is significantly amplified through a series of confessions directly to the camera alongside strategic voice-overs, seamlessly woven into the plot. These elements, far from being mere stylistic choices, serve to draw the viewer closer into the film's emotional core, allowing for a more personal connection with the characters and their complex web of familial relationships. The bold use of such direct communication techniques takes what could have been a clichéd holiday story and elevates it into a nuanced exploration of family dynamics.

    The real achievement of "A Christmas Tale" lies not in its plot or thematic material -- which, at first glance, might seem to tread familiar ground -- but in the distinctive manner of its execution. The film transcends typical holiday movie tropes through its innovative narrative devices, ensuring that it stands out in a genre often critiqued for its predictability and overt sentimentality. The Blu-ray edition showcases this storytelling prowess to great effect, preserving the director's vision and the film's unique narrative structure in exquisite high-definition.

    Moreover, the film's presentation on Blu-ray enhances these storytelling elements with outstanding clarity and detail, bringing the nuanced performances and carefully constructed scenes into sharp relief. This clarity accentuates the careful balance the film strikes between conveying a deep sense of intimacy and maintaining a compelling narrative flow. The high-definition format also allows viewers to appreciate the subtle cinematography and sophisticated visual storytelling techniques that are integral to the film's success. In essence, the Blu-ray edition of "A Christmas Tale" not only preserves but elevates the viewing experience, making it a must-have for aficionados of finely crafted cinema.

    Total: 68

    Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale" is an intricate exploration of family dynamics that invites the viewer into a profound emotional journey, albeit with a complexity that might not suit everyone's palate. The narrative intricacies and depth of character development showcase Desplechin's mastery in creating a richly layered story, although this very elaborateness may pose a challenge for some audience members to fully engage with. Despite this, the film stands out as a significant contribution to the genre, potentially becoming a holiday classic for a discerning viewer.

    The Criterion release elevates "A Christmas Tale" to a higher echelon through its exceptional audio-visual presentation and comprehensive selection of special features. The Blu Ray edition boasts outstanding A/V quality, ensuring that the films' nuanced storytelling and sophisticated cinematography are experienced in the best possible light. Notably, the inclusion of a documentary elucidating the real-life inspirations behind the film adds a layer of depth to the viewing experience, enriching viewers' understanding and appreciation of Desplechin's narrative choices.

    In conclusion, "A Christmas Tale" on Blu Ray by Criterion sets a high standard for home entertainment releases. While the film itself might not resonate with all due to its complex narrative structure, those who connect with it will find a treasure trove of emotional depth and storytelling finesse. The Blu Ray edition, with its superior A/V quality and insightful special features, particularly the standout documentary, ensures that this potentially challenging yet rewarding film can be appreciated in its full glory, making it a valuable addition to any cinephile's collection.