Monday, September 10, 2007

Movie Watch! - Joyeux Noel

Joyeux Noël (2005) - Writer/director Christian Carion chose to take on what I would've seen as a very overwhelming task when he decided to make this film about the unbelievable events of Christmas Eve, 1914, on the battlefields on France in World War I. That meant bringing together the stories of German, Scottish, and French soldiers (all speaking their own languages in the film) into one coherent script. Yet, this film somehow manages to maintain an intimate, comfortable sense about it. Nothing is overwhelming, for better and for worse. There's a whole slew of vignettes in this film. Diane Kruger is absurdly gorgeous as a Danish soprano living with her German tenor husband in Berlin. It just so happens that she's actaully fluent in French, German, and English, which probably made the whole thing easier for her. Either way, bringing together so many vignettes was ultimately the film's undoing, because even with a running time just under two hours, there are still so many underdeveloped and unexplained happenings that you just feel a bit like you've been left out in the cold. The talent of the cast varies, but Steven Robertson, who played a man with cerebral palsy in Rory O'Shea Was Here, shines as a conflicted, tormented, delicate, young Scottish soldier. He's internally frustrated, angst-ridden, and confused, ready to burst any moment (and no, David, he isn't particularly attractive). Guillaume Canet, previously in Jeux d'enfants, is terrific as the French lieutenant torn between suspending war to preserve humanity or continuing to fight to preserve his integrity (he, on the other hand...). The event that brings them all together is magnificent in its own right, something worth thinking about even today. A fine film for a hot day, but maybe even better in December. 7/10

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