Cinema: La Buche

Directed by Daniele Thompson

Three attractive, messed-up sisters and their mother, who has just buried her second husband, try to stage a Christmas celebration in this soberly stated, quietly expert French comedy. You can't imagine the number of husbands and lovers, current and former, who need to be accounted for at the holiday feast. There's also an unacknowledged sibling and a troubling pregnancy to be dealt with. But deft direction and an elegant ensemble combine to make an ironic, dryly sentimental comment on the clash between Yule tradition and postmodern sexual anarchy.

--By Richard Schickel

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