Published Mar 01, 2006It really shouldn't be hard to make a moving film on the opposing WWI soldiers who laid down their arms to celebrate Christmas together. And indeed, there are moments in Joyeux Noel when its subject matter creeps up on you to grab you by the throat. But except for those rare moments, the movie is nothing more than a cheesy Europudding with some absurdly schmaltzy content.
Things start off badly when war is declared, and some hapless Scot announces, "At last! Something's happening in our lives!" as if he had read it on Wikepedia. They go further downhill when an opera singer and his wife are separated and have a tearful visit to the trenches. There's all sorts of declarative thesis-statement dialogue about how horrible the war is and what's the point, and maybe it'll all be done by next year, then you realise that the filmmakers have no interest in history and everything in a "quality" movie for the doltish sweater-clad bourgeoisies.
Though I believe a veiled shout-out to George W. Bush happens late in the game, this film is for people who cry crocodile tears for what they see in movies and can't be expected to connect them to what's going on in real life. In fact, the film seems more for children than adults, and I fear that it's going to be used in high school history classes as a visual aid.
Despite a battery of faces familiar to viewers of world film (including Troy's Diane Kruger), not even an appearance by the voice of God could save this from being consigned to Eurotrash oblivion. (Mongrel Media) (Seville)