Mon oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)

We watched this in my Film & Place class, and I had known next to nothing about Tati or his Monsieur Hulot movies. Well, it might as well have been the kiss of death days beforehand when our teacher said Tati was like a French Chaplin (her exact words). That doomed me from the start, because as I was vegetating during this movie, all I could do in my mind was compare Monsieur Hulot to the Tramp, and all that came out of it in my mind was that Chaplin got everything right the way Tati got everything wrong, both in individual performances and films as a whole. Chaplin’s roles have such energy and life and spontaneity and most importantly, feeling, while to me Monsieur Hulot was just some creepy asshole who goes around breaking shit. And then there’s the pacing…a movie like City Lights is utter perfection in its combination of story, sight gags, and emotion, while Mon oncle was one of the most awkwardly paced movies I have ever seen. Yeah, I know the empty characters and dialogue, off-putting distance from characters and whole settings and scenes where nothing happens is supposed to represent the emptiness of consumerist suburban lifestyle, but in a film sense, it’s just scenes where nothing happens. Even the sight gags, a lot of them very well-done by the way, are just presented in such an odd and jarring way that it all ends up as one of those movies where I’m looking at my watch every…14 seconds or so. Disappointing…I was looking forward to this one 😦


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