Mon Oncle ★★★★

A straight-forward and rewarding story of contrasts: Old Paris vs modern Paris. Brown vs gray. Curves vs. cubes. Conversation vs convenience. Life in the neighborhood vs. life at home. Patina vs. sterility. Being vs. seeming. Bicycles vs. cars. Dogs vs. the world.

As with all of Tati’s classics, the blocking and production design on this film are admirably and evidently and perhaps overly precise. It all gels to enhance the chaotic good of the old Paris versus the orderly evil of the new. The film is mostly dubbed with very little dialogue, yet some of the audio gags are my favorites. What you hear is half of what’s funny in this film. (I’ve never heard a sadder hiccup.) It’s almost as if Tati imagined an alternate history for cinema, where the additon of sound didn’t necessarily mean speech or music, but created an additional, sonic landscape to extend the accomplishments of Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd in the silent era.

Hulot also has great socks.