This is a very intense and humanly complex film, It rally makes us question several things, specifically how families relate and come together and how unnatural that could be. The film operates in the gap between the things we do and the reasons we supply for doing them, between who we think we are and who we appear, to others. Arnaud Desplechin’s films are headlong, ardent explorations of failure, misunderstanding and emotional warfare, which turn out to be roughly synonymous with nobility, generosity and love. Everyone in his world is so complicated that it’s a wonder a single house, family, film or planet could contain more than one, and yet his characters only exist, they are only really themselves, in groups, in crowds, in agonized and imperfect relation to one another.
The story takes you through all kinds of emotions and sometimes you understand and agree and others you completely rebel against some bizarre attitudes, positions and behaviors. The main premise is that the family lost their first born son when he was six and ever since that moment all kinds of emotional adjustments and affects unraveled some clearly unbeknown of the characters. The family will reunite after some years of forced separations due to the fact that the matriarch played by Catherine Denueve has a rare form of blood cancer and in order to survive needs a bone marrow transplant.
The family has two brothers and one sister, one of the brothers, Henri is an alcoholic played by the great French actor Mathieu Amalric (“the Diving Bell and the Butterfly”). He was forced out of the family by the frustrated and depressed sister, her arguments for such an act are seriously questionable. She has a son with serious mental problems. The youngest son, Ivan is also played by a great young actor Melvil Poupaud (“Le Divorce”, “Broken English”). He is the more stable one and has a nice family, his wife is played by Chiara Mastroianni. The story unravels when they all get together for Christmas and support their mother and her decision to battle or not the disease.