Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953)

IMDb plot summary: Monsieur Hulot comes to a beachside hotel for a vacation, where he accidentally (but good-naturedly) causes havoc.
Directed by Jacques Tati. Starring Jacques Tati, Louis Perrault, André Dubois, and Lucien Frégis.

OK, here's the deal. I like French music, French food, the French language, I'd love to go to France someday... so why do I find French films so difficult? (Jean-Pierre Jeunet's work excepted.) I've tried dramas and comedies and a few French New Wave flicks and nearly always find myself just kind of... confused. But I keep trying, and will continue trying, because there's a part of me that thinks, "If I can just figure out what cultural barrier is keeping me from understanding these movies, I WILL LOVE THEM ALL."

So on to this movie. On the surface, it's "the guy who inspired Mr. Bean." So I expect a series of slapstick gags, with one character ineptly handling everything and other people getting over-the-top annoyed with him. What I ended up with was... like seven slapstick gags, spaced out through an hour and a half movie, and interspersed with fifteen-minute scenes of people carrying around ice cream cones, setting up beach umbrellas, and quietly sitting drinking tea. I don't know if there were jokes that were so subtle I missed them, or if I was supposed to be paying much closer attention to characters who were not M. Hulot and picking up on recurring bits, or whether this was really meant to be more of a charming "Ah, lovely people enjoying themselves at the beach" type of movie than something that was going to have actual jokes in it. I really can't tell if it IS one of those three. Either way, I clearly do not have the same sense of humor as Jacques Tati.

Sadly, the allure of the French film evades me once more. I will say this, though: I LOVED the music at the end. It really DID have a "What a lovely week at the beach" kind of feel to it, and I think maybe if there had been more music throughout, it would have been easier to get into that kind of mode and enjoy watching everyone interact, even without all the humorous moments I'd hoped for. 2 stars.

Flickchart: #1465 out of 2032, below The Quiet Man and above Zorba the Greek.

No comments: