Mr. Hulot's Holiday

Today I watched Mr. Hulot's Holiday, a french comedy directed by and starring Jacques Tati in 1953. It's a cute movie, almost a silent film. It's about Mr. Hulot, a tall, angular fellow with an overstuffed pipe that he smokes. He is one of those characters who bumbles about and causes mayhem, although he doesn't realize it. Here, he invades a small seaside hotel, upsetting grumpy patrons.

It's not an insane, screwball comedy, or one with a ton of laughs. It's a lot of small moments, some that made me smile more than they made me laugh. I like that, though - not being a huge fan of comedy, I'm ok with them being small and more subtle. It was charming, and I like characters like Hulot. There were a lot of great moments, one of my favorites being the lazy dog he tries to wake in the middle of the road, or when he is out canoeing - the canoe flips over him and snaps, and he marches onto shore looking like a shark while people on the beach panic and flee.

In Ebert's essay, he writes about how much more he liked the movie after he had seen it several times, saying, "When I saw the film a second time, the wonderful thing was, it was like returning to the hotel. It wasn't like I was seeing the film again; it was like I was recognizing the people from last year. There's the old couple again (good, they made it through another year). The waiter (where does he work in the winter?). And the blond girl (still no man in her life; maybe this is the summer that . . .)" (The Great Movies, 302). I haven't seen it more than once, and I haven't ever vacationed in a communal place year after year. This year I will, maybe I'll watch this movie after I get back and see if that feeling rings true.

I really enjoyed this movie, and anyone looking for a light, cute comedy will like this as well. I think that it will probably, as Ebert says, get better the more I see it, which will have to wait, until it is not a Sunday night when I have too much laundry to do. :)

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Mr. Hulot's Holiday

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