Sight and Sound - 03/01/2005
"[A] wonderfully observed satire..."
Jacque Tati's second feature film and first film in color reintroduces his hilarious Chaplinesque alter ego, M. Hulot. After having followed Hulot on his sun-drenched, foible-filled seaside vacation in MR. HULOT'S HOLIDAY, MON ONCLE finds Tati contrasting Hulot's bohemian provincial home life with the modern, contraption-filled concrete and glass home belonging to his sister and her family, the Arpels, where Hulot's nephew, Gerard, is drowning in boredom. When Hulot comes for a visit, the gadgets get the better of him, in a seamless spectacle of electric switches, slamming doors and malfunctioning accoutrements. Tati shuttles back and forth between Hulot's quaint home of friendly, if mischievous neighbors and music filled provincial café's and the Arpel's surreal and cold ultra modern lifestyle, creating an evocative and whimsical contrast that Tati would develop further in his future masterpieces, PLAYTIME and TRAFFIC. When Mr. Arpel contrives to secure Hulot a position at his rubber tubing factory, Mrs. Arpel simultaneously conspires to fix him up with an eccentric neighbor, Hulot's clumsy and gullible nature lead him into myriad tangles with the Arpels modern lifestyle, climaxing in an intricately absurd garden party.
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