M. Hulot's Holiday
(Les vacances de M. Hulot)
Recommended for ages 9 & up
Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michèle Rolla, Raymond Carl,
In a cinematic postcard from a seaside summer resort, Tati observes the forced gaiety and gently absurd antics of the English and French on vacation. A stream of sight and sound gags, this is comedy as choreography, plotless and virtually without dialogue. Or, rather, with almost inaudible dialogue that lays waste the speaker’s vanity even as he speaks. As in a dance, people are recurring motifs: the English couple who stroll in slow motion, the woman with the petits chignons, and of course M. Hulot, with his pipe and hat, and his wicked tennis stroke that is outdone only by his whole-body ping-pong style. Tati’s is the art of the anticlimax; no motivations are set up, no gag is played out to its conclusion, and night always passes to morning with the sigh of a well-timed dissolve. Les vacances are a series of near misses and minor disasters, but the beauty of it is, nobody seems to notice.