A Christmas Tale
Is about how the pain of both life and death is made easier to digest in the form of stories. The scene begins at a snow covered funeral where an elderly man gives a eulogy to an imaginary group of mourners.
In 1965 Abel and Junon had Joseph, the first born. They also had a little girl, and when Joseph was in kindergarten he developed Burkitt's Lymphoma. The tragedy is not told directly with the watched brutality of a child's illness but in the form of gentle puppets. Neither the daughter nor the parents were compatible with Joseph. In desperation the couple conceives a third child, Henri, but his placenta was also not a match. Joseph died 18 months after the birth of Henri, to make Elizabeth the eldest of what was to be eventually two brothers. The memory of Joseph fades.
Years later, when Junon is elderly, yet no less beautiful, she gathers a tray of tea and sweets together in a homey, upper middle class house. But while carrying the tray she drops it to the ground, and the world blurs. She sinks to the floor.
The scene changes to Elizabeth speaking to a specialist about the family problems and her own sense of herself to be cold and empty. Elizabeth is a playwright, and her brother, Henri bought her the theater for her to perform her works and they were successful. But, Henri did not pay for the theater in direct right and was greatly in debt.
The family members; Elizabeth, Abel and Henri stand in court and Abel agrees to pay Henri's debt. But Elizabeth says she will pay the full sum as long as Henri is banished. The judge finds the agreement to be as tastelessly cold as it is over personal for a courtroom, but since the debt needs to be paid, Elizabeth's terms are accepted. Though Henri is banished, it is not because Elizabeth's life is perfect. Her only child, a son has schizophrenia, an essentially incurable disease.
Junon comes back from her doctor's appointment to tell Abel, between puffs of elegant cigarette, that she has cancer, though it is curable with a bone marrow transplant, but the transplant could cause a reaction whereby the body basically freaks out at the unknown marrow and starts attacking itself.
In the end, it is the inutile Henri who is the match for Junon as well as Elizabeth's son. Junon chooses Henri and the family is brought together for a functionally dysfunctional Christmas, with lots of wine, a children's play and a renegade trip to Midnight Mass.
By Sarah Bahl