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MONSIEUR HULOT'S HOLIDAY
aka LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT
UK: BFI (Collections)
Cast: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michele Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault, Andre Dubois, Lucien Fregis, Raymond Carl, Rene Lacourt, Marguerite Gerard
Director: Jacques Tati
Language: French (English subtitles)
UK: 87 mins
UK Certificate: U contains no sex, violence or bad language
UK Release Date: 8 August 2003 (Limited Re-release)
Tati's warm-hearted caricature of the middle-class vacationing is a scrapbook of seaside snapshots and anecdotes. With the informal charm of a home movie, this is observational comedy at its laid back finest. The deceptively casual cascade of gags revives the visual beauty of the silent era. Dialogue is minimal but Tati's sound jokes are superb. From the babbling station tannoy to the squeaking door of the hotel dining room, Tati gives inanimate objects a life of their own.
Monsieur Hulot, all lolloping limbs, pipe and hat, became one of cinema's best-loved characters. Throwing himself into everything from a tennis match to a fancy dress party, Hulot is an accident personified. Amiable and courteous, he is a gentle lunatic, unaware that his enthusiasms are forging a chain of disaster. A major influence on comedians from Terry Jones to Dom Joly, and particularly Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean, Tati's legacy remains still strong today.
Seeing the finished film's idiosyncratic structure, Tati's financial backers had serious doubts about its commercial appeal. A rapturous public preview proved them wrong, and in the summer of 1953, a French general strike kept Parisians in the city during August while the film played to capacity crowds.
A cinematic sea breeze, MONSIEUR HULOT'S HOLIDAY - re-released on a new print - will revive on even the stickiest summer day.