Five years after M. Hulot’s Holiday Tatit came out with Mon Oncle. The latter film makes up for the fact that it lacks some of its predecessor’s charm by instead actually having something to say.
Again, the plot is minimal: M. Hulot wanders through the modern world (1958), casually and accidentally disrupting the lives of his sister and brother-in-law. Very much of a piece with Rene Clair’s A Nous La Liberte and Chaplin’s Modern Times, the film satirizes modern life. Yet Tati has an added point here. Mon Oncle may well be first film to directly target rampant consumerism.
Tati creates a fascinating set of two worlds: the old, confused, jumbled, noisy even dirty Paris in which M. Hulot lives, and the modern, squeaky clean, utterly sterile one in which his relatives reside. The satire isn’t particularly subtle, but it’s often on target — and some of it is very funny. And when the film isn’t overtly humorous, it’s still delightful in its sheer inventiveness (watch the incredible business of Hulot going through his apartment building).
Again, not to be missed.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke
[Peter Loewer's French-comedy film series will screen Mon Oncle on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in Pack Memorial Library's Lord Auditorium. Loewer will introduce the film, beginning at 6 p.m.]