Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. With a cast of Scottish, German and French actors all speaking their own language, writer-director Christian Carion has fashioned a deeply moving and uplifting piece.
  2. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    90
    A period drama marbled with humor, bold gestures and bittersweet consequences.
  3. Though it's not the great film "Grand Illusion" is, and though it may strike some as a little schmaltzy, it still has some of that earlier film's deep feeling and empathy for soldiers trapped in the jaws of war and for the joys of Christmas--for believers and non-believers alike.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Joyeux Noël is gritty and disturbing with its extended scenes of war and destruction. It also is emotional, even a touch sentimental.
  5. 80
    It's a profoundly moving story of -- yes! -- the human spirit rising above horrible circumstances, and simultaneously a work of nostalgia for the gentlemen's war that marked the end, or the beginning of the end, of Christian Europe's world domination.
  6. But except for a few missteps, the movie is so beautifully and sensitively rendered in its particulars, in its characterizations of soldiers and officers, and in its dramatization of a nearly miraculous event, that the result is an affecting piece of cinema.
  7. The movie isn't perfect – Spielberg-slick, its power is sometimes dampened by melodrama that overstates its message – but it is compelling and thought-provoking and topical as hell.
  8. 75
    Its sentimentality is muted by the thought that this moment of peace actually did take place, among men who were punished for it, and who mostly died soon enough afterward.
  9. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    An intense but fairly brief battle scene near the start reminds us of the unique horrors of this war. But the hokey music played over it hints that the film is going to try too hard to touch us. And it soon does.
  10. Carion's cri de coeur is at once a historical chronicle, an ode to the European Community, and a not-so-veiled critique of a 21st-century war.
  11. It takes an extraordinary film on the order of Joyeux Noel to make it all suddenly vital, immediate and human.
  12. 75
    It makes for a fascinating exploration of the human experience.
  13. For a few fleeting hours, they unlearned those lessons of childhood, laying down their arms to pick up their common humanity.
  14. If audiences are hesitant to believe that the fraternization in this film really happened, it will be because of the storytelling, not the story.
  15. The overall saga is moving, the performances are first-rate, the production values (which do not rely on the usual cartoonish CGI effects) are strong, and Carion captures the special insanity of stalemated trench warfare with an unusual horrific flair.
  16. 70
    Joyeux Noël finishes up as no more than a garden-variety tearjerker, neatly packaged for Oscar candidacy. It's not hard to see why the French chose this inoffensive weepie as their nominee for best foreign-language film, when they might have had Jacques Audiard's far superior, if more difficult, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" or Arnaud Desplechin's "Kings & Queen."
  17. 70
    Carion is no Jean Renoir, but he does strike an appealingly low key of tender, faintly goofy affinity between the combatants.
  18. The uncomplicated humanism of Joyeux Noël, with its Christmas message of peace, feels at once irrefutable and refreshing.
  19. Based on a true story, the movie was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film; some might castigate its unabashed sentimentality, but I found myself moved, especially when I recalled that this was supposedly the war to end all wars.
  20. 67
    Merry Christmas is long and ponderous, but for a few moments, its heavy hand is refreshingly light and agile, and you feel something other than frustration.
  21. 67
    Though a painless time-passer, Joyeux Noël ultimately contributes little to the venerable anti-war genre beyond its curious message that to some degree, war is hell because it prevents soldiers from making really neat friends and pen-pals from different counties.
  22. 63
    Joyeux Noel is no gritty war film; this is more of a Christmas miracle movie, full of melodrama. Carion juggles a large, multicultural cast, and few of the characters stand out; most are there to represent the types who pop up in your standard war-movie battalions.
  23. 60
    The first two-thirds of Joyeux Noel are strangely inert, but the film ends with a moving and surprisingly sophisticated meditation on the definition of moral duty.
  24. You can't go wrong with an uplifting, anti-war story like this, but director Christian Carion trowels on the schmaltz, and the movie's emphasis on Christian values actually seems to spell doom for solving today's conflicts with the Middle East.
  25. 50
    It's a heart-warmer, a well-meaning movie that sets out to wring a modern message (and preferably some tears) from a famous but largely forgotten moment in history.
  26. If the film's sentiments about the madness of war are impeccably high-minded, why then does Joyeux Noël, an Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film, feel as squishy and vague as a handsome greeting card declaring peace on earth?
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. May 1, 2011
    10
    A very beautiful movie, very sentimental. It represents perfectly a human aspect in war like no other movie did. This isn't your classic war movie: it has nothing to do with action or mass death. Full Review »
  2. Feb 15, 2014
    10
    This is...the "best" movie I've ever seen in my entire life: I almost cried at the end of it, and I tend to watch movies mostly as a way to communication more than a total. But this movie gives such a strong and powerful message that i was simply amazed and overjoyed.

    The story is based on a real fact on the WWI, specifically around Christmas, where basically the 3 opposing factions (Scotland, France and Germany) decided to stop the war for celebrating Christmas...and it all develops from there what is basically a strong message of peace.

    Infact, this movie shows how a simple festivity, how just the mere act of celebrating a holiday, it's able to change EVERYONE in the span of few instants. It's not even about Christianity sake, it's a global message of how just simple beliefs can bring out the good in people.
    It has some flaws now and then (I hardly remember the characters themselves) but I just loved the message and basically how we should religions not just a simple way to live, but a way to bring out the best of ourselves and to do the right thing.

    Like I said at the start, in my opinion, this is the best movie "ever".

    Of course, to each his/her own.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 14, 2014
    7
    This is a tough movie to dislike, unless you are a hate-filled warmonger. Still, all the sweetness of the movie does not make it a great movie (I've been watching it every Christmas since 2006, and I get away with the same feeling every time--but I do watch it every year). The characters are wooden and underdeveloped. Plot is virtually nonexistent. The director seems too busy shouting out his politics to introduce much subtlety to the movie itself. What should be a terrific and powerful message that ought to be strengthened by its real life bases somehow becomes stilted, preachy, and over the top, thanks to the inept manner of the storytelling. But, notwithstanding the flawed execution, it is a movie that I keep watching year after year. Full Review »