Ailing in her golden years, family matriarch Berthe (Villalonga) goes to live with her chilly, middle-aged daughter Emilie (Deneuve), who resides in Toulouse with her husband Bruno (Bouvier) and their two children. At Christmas time, Emilie’s estranged brother Antoine (Auteuil) arrives and, after butting heads with Bruno, gradually embroils the clan in conflict.
Slow-burning and elliptically edited, Techine’s haunting story of a family dealing with anger, guilt, and past offenses excels thanks to the grand dame of regal reserve, Catherine Deneuve, and her accomplished co-star Daniel Auteuil, playing a brother and sister who haven’t communicated since the death of their father. Shot amid the stunning landscapes of Southern France, Techine’s film finds the two eventually drawn into an oddly intimate reconciliation of sorts. The film plays like a hefty novel, and has the thematic depth and rich dialogue to support the weight of several, unfolding with the “Seasons.”