Second up in my Jacques Tati-a-thon, and the first of his films I actually saw, Mon Oncle is Tati’s follow-up to the success of Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, which proved so popular Tati would bring back the eponymous Hulot for an impromptu series of films. Mon Oncle would be Tati’s color debut, and even with the advancements in film, Tati himself seems to have grown and matured in his tastes and sense of purpose, though he retains his child-like wonder of the world around him, personified in Hulot himself, whose interactions with a world so unbefitting of him are the crux of the humor to be found in this film.
While Mr. Hulot’s Holiday was more of an introduction and free-association of the ideals of comedy that would be so pervasive through each of Tati’s films, Mon Oncle is a much more refined approach to those same ideals. This time, however, the film is in color rather than mere black and white, which gives Tati yet another mode and canvas with which to work his comedy with. This time around, the antics of Hulot revolve around a theme, one of the excesses of modern design and architecture and the consumerism of then modern France. The humor is a lot more reserved with this one, and it doesn’t really get started until Hulot arrives at the house (and the Plastac factory) to which he’ll spend most of his time and the film spends most of its gags on. Once it does, though, it lets loose in the usual manner befitting Tati’s comic styles, albeit with a much higher focus on plot, what there is to be had.
The house itself is a character all its own, and the antics of Hulot in relation to the house & factory and its various so-called modern objects form most of the humor. This made the film much more reserved and focused than Holiday, which was both poor and beneficial for us as viewers. People expecting another Mr. Hulot’s Holiday will likely be disappointed with this one, and indeed I’d probably recommend seeing this first before Holiday if one intends to marathon Tati like I am doing. Still, the gags that were to be found here were up to par, so the film succeeded at least from that standpoint. It’s also longer than Holiday, and doesn’t make up for the extra time with additional humor, but this will still please those apt for another go into the world of Tati and his zany, expressionistic humor.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10