Joyeux Noël

"Good"

Joyeux Noël Review


Whoever was in charge of distribution for Christian Carion's Joyeux Noël should be shamed out of the business. The reason is simple: for a film almost strictly about the Christmas spirit and human connection, there's no way it will fare well since the audience has gotten over that feeling a solid 2 months ago. Where a film like The Family Stone could get away with being released at another time, part of Joyeux Noël's pull is that it taps into that united feeling we get at Christmas and New Year's. However, this is not to say that Carion doesn't know how to make a good movie.

It's the First World War, and the British, French, and Germans are all held up at a front in France, where the Brits and the French are determined to send the Germans home. Earlier, three brothers from Scotland are told that they will be going to Glasgow for military training. Palmer, the oldest and an Anglican priest (Gary Lewis), is apprehensive while his younger brothers, Jonathan and William (Steven Robertson and Robin Laing, respectively) can't wait to go out and defend their country. The French commander, Lieutenant Audebert (a great Guillame Canet), tries to keep his soldiers morale up after a small massacre in the trenches from a German gunner. Meanwhile, the German leader, Horstmayer (Daniel Brühl), attempts to find a way to get out of the fight with his honor intact.

Then, suddenly, a German soldier named Nikolaus (he is actually a famed opera singer back home) sings "Silent Night" and gets backing from Scottish soldiers' bagpipes. A truce is called in the name of the holidays and all the soldiers drink, eat and swap stories about women back home, including Nikolaus' singing partner (Diane Kruger). For one night, they just decide to be humans, no matter what the consequences.

Like its fellow foreign language Oscar nominee Tsotsi, Joyeux Noël is strikingly familiar in its plot structure. However, where Tsotsi dealt with the gritty, crime-soaked ghettos with a harsh style and expert direction, Joyeux Noël has a timid nature to it. There's no doubt that the film is entertaining, but dealing with war and unity needs to have some more intricacy to it. There are some terrible moments of cliché (the dead soldier's open eyes staring right at Audebert, the brotherly dynamics between Palmer and his siblings) that hinder it from having any witty revelations about war. And there's no real moment of brutality to show the reaction of the governments of each country, not wanting peace on the fly, or even at all, maybe.

The actors buck up the moments of trite material. The great character actor Gary Lewis (he was the father in Billy Elliot and Thomas in Peter Mullan's criminally underrated Orphans) uses a calm, even performance to see the religious and logical reactions to war. Daniel Brühl excels as Horstmayer, balancing his strict discipline and his melancholic tone with a master's precision. The rest of the cast is excellent, with the notable exception of Kruger, who can't make us believe her singing (it was actually done by famed French soprano Natalie Dessay) nor does she really get to the heart of woman trying to get to her soldier boyfriend (she's no Audrey Tautou). As entertainment goes, the film knows its strides and how to make an audience happy. But for an R-rated war film, this puppy has no claws.

DVD extras include a commentary track by and interview with the director.

Joyeux to the world.



Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Wednesday 27th November 2013

Budget: $22M

Production compaines: Senator Film Produktion, Nord-Ouest Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Anna Sorensen, Natalie Dessay as Anna Sörensen (singing voice), as Nikolaus Sprink, as Nikolaus Sprink (singing voice), as Lieutenant Audebert, as Palmer, as Ponchel, as Horst Mayer, as Gueusselin, Alex Ferns as Gordon, as Jonathan, Frank Witter as Jörg, as Le général, as L'évêque, Thomas Schmauser as Le Kronprinz

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.