A matriarch’s need for a transplant from a blood relative brings a reunion of the volatile Vuillard family at Christmas. Yet a simple family gathering can’t begin to describe the unpredictable, emotional experience of this magical drama that’s equal parts merriment and melancholy.
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Stylistically, it's all over the place. It switches to telescopic view for no apparent reason. The actors talk to the camera, both in the scene and in a studio. There are scenes that are similar to those 'Previously on ...' which summarize events a bit too quickly. Overall, the stylistic changes serve to obfuscate the plot to the point where I no longer cared.
In the 45 minutes I endured of this, I was reminded of James Wood's essay on "hysterical realism," a sub-genre of novels in which "there is a pursuit of vitality at all costs." However, Desplechin never grasps vitality; there is only the wearying pursuit.