English Title: Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
Original Title: Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot
Language: French, German, English
Director: Jacques Tati
Music: Alain Romans
My second Tati’s film after PLAYTIME (1967), MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY is when the titular character, Tati’s on-screen proxy, was introduced for the first time, a tall, polite, convivial and slightly ungainly gentleman, whose silhouette resembles an adult version of Tintin, drives with his cramped jalopy, but his eyes flicker self-possessed wisdom and unlike the modernistic urban spectacle in the PLAYTIME, this film is confined to a specified rural location, among miscellaneous characters, Mr. Hulot is the prominent player and seamless skits climates with a spectacular hoot of fireworks.
Tati is a sterling humorist, a punctilious life observer, but never an orderly storyteller, so this beachside vacation is a laid-back assemblage of stunts stemming from sheer coincidence, mindless slips or distractions, antics with deadpan seriousness, classic slapstick and precisely calculated gags. The master strokes are plentiful, in particular, the magic paint bucket which wondrously floats with the tides to the very spots uncannily when Mr. Hulot is painting a canoe, which later snaps in half in the middle of the water, this entails intricate camerawork to bring to fruition of all Tati’s quirky mind’s eye. The black humor emitted from a tyre-and-wreath blooper and the subsequent handshake consolation is pitch-perfect and timeless. Also, it is a riot to be amused by the prank of Hulot’s invincible serving in the tennis match, all connote that Tati is not only, a steady successor of comedy masters like Chaplin, Keaton, but also a trendsetter of his own trademark humanistic concern conflated with Gallo-sense of satire.
Each day kicks off with light jazz fusions then randomly follows the recreation of the tourists, which concocts a kaleidoscope of people’s mindset at then and unremittingly tickles our ribs with Tati’s witty, unsophisticated, knowing gimmicks which ruefully reminisce us comedies can also be stylish and virtuous, furthermore compel us to lament what’s wrong with the present hurly-burly of comedy, is it true that our public taste of humor has plummeted that deep? Modern potboiler-makers, please regress to the masters of yore for inspiration and stop inculcating us with bawdy, vulgar and unhealthy duds.