M. Hulot's Holiday
The Criterion Collection
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Pipe-smoking Monsieur Hulot, Jacques Tati's endearing clown, takes a holiday at a seaside resort where his presence provokes one catastrophe after another. Tati's wildly funny satire of vacationers determined to enjoy themselves includes a series of precisely choreographed sight gags involving dogs, boats and firecrackers. The first entry in the Hulot series is a masterpiece of gentle slapstick.
- New Digital Transfer, with restored image and sound
- Video introduction by filmmaker Terry Jones (Monty Python)
- Rene Clement's 1963 short film, Soigne ton gauche, starring Jacques Tati
- Optional English language soundtrack, created by Jacques Tati
- New and improved English subtitle soundtrack
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Mr. Hulot, along with the rest of French men and women, is taking the long-weekend holiday at the seashore in a small resort hotel. You get the impression that most of the guests return here year after year. Outings have been arranged, none for children worse luck, and most are ignored by the guests who seem to just take walks, play cards, sit on the beach. Cliques are formed, but Mr. Hulot doesn't belong to any of them. He sailes blithely from activity to group to event getting in everyone's way, creating chaos wherever he goes and unknowingly delighting some of the other outsiders who much appreciate his contribution to their vacation.
Tati must have devoted hours and hours making inanimate objects perform in just the perfect way for the perfect shot. In one episode his very beat-up little car has a flat while he's acting as chauffer to a planned outing. The tire rolls down the hill picking up brightly colored Fall leaves on the way. Then it rolls into a cemetery where it's picked up and displayed for a funeral. The other funeral guests think it's a floral tribute and line up to thank Hulot for his tribute to the deceased. It's all so unexpected and howlingly funny. Great stuff!
Like many other period comedies, M. Hulot's Holiday is an understated emotional adventure. I quite enjoyed it. It wasn't a life changer, but the effect is rather pleasant.
You should be prepared for the dated quality of film, the "Mr. Bean-esque" non-dialogue (en francais plutot), and the general lack of plot...
It's just fun to watch. You'll need to be able to really watch the screen to understand the film. If you have significant visual impairment, the action will likely escape you.
M. Hulot is saddled with a rather adolescent sense of humor, to which he more often appears the victim. He is beyond awkward, though his dexterity is average. He is a toe walker, extremely polite and seemingly unaware of his social ineptitude.