A Christmas Tale is a complicated, sprawling, ambitious movie about a dysfunctional family coming back together for Christmas, some members of whom are estranged from each other, and others who are in decades old love triangles with their various spouses. The great Catherine Deneuve plays the aloof matriarch who is dying of cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant from one of her grown children, but the movie's not really a downer at all. There are plenty of comedic elements, some morbid for sure, but the film's not interested in wrapping everything up in a bow- the message is that families are complex, simultaneously hard and easy to get along with, and people can change all the time from hatred and fist-fighting one minute, to laughter and tears in the next. The movie encompasses all these tonal shifts, and the standout in the cast is Mathew Amalric as the nutty black sheep middle child. Our last alternative Christmas movie this week, as tomorrow's recommendation will be a more traditional choice for Christmas Eve.