Director Arnaud Desplechin Exclusive Video Interview A CHRISTMAS TALE

     November 21, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Already playing in limited release is director Arnaud Desplechin’s new movie “A Christmas Tale.” According to Arnaud, it’s a French version of the classic American movie…the family reunion at Thanksgiving. Except, since the holiday isn’t celebrated in France, he moved it to Christmas.

The film has an all star cast and unlike American movies that showcase the perfect looking family with no real problems, everyone featured in “A Christmas Tale” has a back-story and you get to know them. They’re all real people trying to figure lifeout.

Anyway, the film played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. Hopefully that’s a good enough pedigree for you to want to check it out. But to help sell the movie a bit more…here are 6 movie clips and the trailer.

Anyway, I recently got to speak with director Arnaud Desplechin and the interview is below. During our time we covered tons of subjects…but the highlight was Arnaud talking about wanting to make a French version of the superhero movie. But he doesn’t want to make a movie like “Spider-Man” or “X-Men”. What he wants to do is make a movie like “Unbreakable”, or even “Million Dollar Baby”. He actually explains why “Million Dollar Baby” is a superhero movie and it made a lot of sense.

Of course we talked about his movie “A Christmas Tale” and what it was like to be in Cannes…but the interview covers a ton of other things. And before getting to the interview…for those that haven’t heard of “A Christmas Tale,” here’s the synopsis:

Junon and Abel are the parents of three grown children: Elizabeth is a melancholic playwright with a mathematician husband and a tortured teenage son, Paul; Henri is the self-destructive black sheep, banished from family events by Elizabeth five years prior; the youngest Ivan, the peacemaker, is married to the beautiful Sylvia and has two eccentric little boys; while a fourth – Joseph, the eldest – died from leukemia as a boy. When Junon is also diagnosed with leukemia, all are tested to see who can be a donor, and then the whole family – including lovesick cousin Simon and Henri’s girlfriend, Faunia – returns home for a long Christmas weekend. All crowded again under the same roof, solidarity quickly – and hilariously – devolves into feuding, drunkenness and bed-hopping, as everyone struggles to make sense of the mysteries of family, life and what lies ahead.

Arnaud Desplechin Part 1

  • I ask him about the freedom he has as a filmmaker in France to put on screen flawed characters that drink, smoke and have real problems

  • Does he get pressure to make the characters less flawed

  • He talks about the film, were the idea came from and what it’s about – says he wanted to make the French version of the American Thanksgiving movie

  • We talk about the cast

  • Where did he film in France and what was it like filming there

  • Does he storyboard a lot or does he like to improvise on set – says he loves to shoot on location

Arnaud Desplechin Part 2

  • Does he always film the rehearsal and how many takes is too many

  • He talks about how he tries to have the actors deliver the lines in different ways so hw has choices in editing room

  • Talks about having his film playing in Cannes

  • I ask what is he doing next – he talks about how much he loves the superhero genre and he hopes to make a French version of the superhero movie – not like a Spider-Man…but like Unbreakable or Million Dollar Baby. He talks about how Million Dollar baby is a superhero movie

  • Finally, since he lives in Paris, I ask him what is the one thing he recommends people do if they go to Paris for one day

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