My penultimate film of 2009. Jacques Tati (who also directed) stars as Monsieur Hulot, an unemployed vagabond who seems to find mischief with alarming frequency. Nearly silent, the movie comprises a series of set pieces for the hapless Hulot: a blind date attended by a party of one; a factory job that ends in disaster; a lunch party that goes from formal to frantic; a children’s game that would be cruel if it weren’t so funny; and a running joke with a fountain fish that somehow gets funnier with each shot.
Tati was a master at choreographing himself and his actors with balletic precision, so that what could come off as mere slapstick becomes sublime. An amazing comedy–and more than a little pathos in the aimless Hulot. This is one you need to see.
1958; starring Jacques Tati; directed by Jacques Tati; 117 min; Not Rated; in French w/ English subtitles; available on Criterion.