Monsieur Hulot's Holiday

Monsieur Hulot's Holiday ★★★★★

After much deliberation, I've finally come to the conclusion that the 1978 edit is the ultimate version of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday. This version trims the fat, cutting 10 minutes or so out of a film that is already simple and streamlined, resulting in a tight, quaint little film that continues to impress me over and over again.

The film has a very cellular nature; events occur seemingly in a random, episodic fashion. With Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday there are two types of shot; gags, or nothing. By 'nothing' I really mean shots of life just... occurring.

Tati's portrayal of Hulot is a refined version of Francois from Jour de Fête; still the same bumbling, well-meaning tall man, but this time much more light footed, lofted, and quiet. Hulot himself only speaks once, in a fantastic gag as he tries to check into the hotel. Whereas Jour de Fête had dialogue integral to events on screen, with Hulot the dialogue is merely a byproduct. You could easily watch this film without subtitles and still not miss a beat. Language takes the backseat, and a visual language is formed. This isn't to say that sound isn't important in Tati films going forward. There is a neat focus on sound in several sequences, with recurring sound effects that become jokes in and of themselves, not to mention the iconic theme, 'How Is The Weather In Paris' written by Alain Romans. This chill jazz piece encapsulates the energy and nature of this seaside comedy, a very relaxed and subdued atmosphere with blips of excitement and brilliance. The line between diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound is blurred; Romans' fantastic theme is introduced at the head of the film, setting the quaint atmosphere with ambient shots of the seaside, only to be reintroduced later as characters put on vinyl records. This is what I love about Tati films in a nutshell. What was once disregarded as background padding, very much becomes the foreground. It's all about revealing these often overlooked moments.

Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is a fascinating film, in that it works very much on two levels. I have friends who grew up with this film as children, and I think it's a perfect entry point for this style of visual, slapstick humour, especially at a young age. On top of this, it is a meticulously detailed film with so much to unpack. I constantly find myself picking up on new things, whether in the foreground or background. Little quips of dialogue, recurring jokes or small visual gags I missed on the first few watches. It's a celebration of those simple moments in life, those seaside visits with your family, but it also expresses just how trivial the whole affair is. It picks aparts the subtle flaws of post-war Parisian society in a jovial way.

Block or Report

Jack🧠 liked these reviews