M. Hulot's Holiday is the perfect summer movie, the exact embodiment of summer set to celluloid. Like a series of snapshots of family vacations, the film radiates humor and a fond nostalgia for holidays past.
The film's picturesque seaside vignettes are juxtaposed with the laugh-out-loud slapstick of Mr. Hulot and all who fall in his path. Just call it 'Monsieur Haricot à la Plage.' The title character is surely the father of our favorite catastrophe-stricken Brit. Mr. Hulot, played brilliantly by Jacques Tati, is a puzzling character. His animated actions are far louder than his words. Like Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, he barely speaks. The character proves to be comically polite and, even more comically, oblivious.
Many of the vignettes center on universal holiday experiences: things going horribly wrong and general misunderstandings. Whether or not Mr. Hulot's presence is accountable for all these disasters isn't clear. Regardless, chaos ensues wherever he goes. Whether he's on the road (a flat tire mistaken for a cemetery's memorial wreath) or in the sea (his snapped-in-half boat causing screams of 'shark!'), nothing goes too smoothly when he's around. You'll just have to watch it yourself to see its 'explosive' ending.
If you're a fan of the earlier slapstick movies, M. Hulot's Holiday will be a favorite of yours. It's the perfect antidote to the big-budget blockbusters of this year, or any year.
M. Hulot's Holiday (1953)
Directed by: Jacques Tati
For more Tati talk, turn to Tativille [full-screen]