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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.