By Kim Voynar (reprinted from 05/16/2008 -- Cannes Film Festival)
Arnaud Desplechin's film Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale), playing in competition here at Cannes, is a tragically comic tale of love, death, and familial strife and forgiveness. The film centers around Junon (Catherine Deneuve) and her husband Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon), whose oldest child, Joseph, is diagnosed at a young age with Burkitt's lymphoma.
The boy's disease is curable only with a bone marrow transplant, and neither the parents nor his younger sister, Elizabeth, are compatible. The couple conceives another child in the hopes of making a match to cure their son, but the third child, Henri, is also incompatible, and Joseph dies at the age of six. Eventually the grieving parents have a fourth child, Ivan, and in time the family's wounds over the death of the eldest son heal ... but not really.