Directed by Jacques Tati (France 1953; 114 mins. in French with English subtitles)
The film-of-the-week is the unmissable origin film for French director Jacques Tati’s most beloved, gauche character: Monsieur Hulot. In Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, our pipe-smoking, gently subversive hero (played by the director himself) arrives at a seaside resort in Brittany, where he proceeds to poetically sabotage the monotony of each classic “postcard from the holidays” moment he may encounter.
The film effortlessly combines satire (poking at the socio-economic politics of the time, which still resonates today) and Tati’s famous, expertly choreographed ensembles scenes of chaos and slapstick humor generated by Monsieur Hulot’s misadventures.
Reminiscent of the painstaking precision of Keaton and Chaplin (a director of the sound era, Tati has no real interest in words but loves noises), Hulot’s bumbling awkwardness in the sea of elite French snobbery is sharp on both a comical and political level. “One must create a truly festive climate,” Tati said, speaking of making films, and Mr. Hulot doesn’t miss a beat - the perfect antidote to any summer blues. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday can be watched online through Amazon, The Criterion Channel and YouTube.