Review - Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
If you were to walk up to a random person and ask them what their favorite season is, chances are they would probably say summer. This is probably because summer is the season that most people associate with adventure, joy, and fun. That’s why I believe that Jacques Tati’s masterpiece Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is so great. With its beautiful beach landscapes and a relentlessly fun atmosphere, it’s hard not to feel like you yourself are experiencing that same summer joy.
Throughout the story, Monsieur Hulot undergoes little to no change. Some might have a problem with this, but personally, I think that Monsieur Hulot’s lack of development just adds to the fun atmosphere, as well as its harmless sense of fun. Though he has little to no development, I still consider Monsieur Hulot to be a great character. He's the type of character who you understand and get to know via his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, all of which come from Jaques Tati’s excellent performance. It’s not a surprise that he was one of the primary inspirations for Mr. Bean. When talking about the great slapstick comedians in film, Monsieur Hulot should be compared to those of Buster Keaton’s Stone face or Chaplin’s The Tramp.
Monsieur Hulot is not the only great character in the film. One of the best parts of Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday are the side characters. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is a film made of many different slapstick gags, a lot of which interlude with side characters. Many of these gags would probably be much worse if it wasn’t for the side characters, who at many times are just as entertaining as the main character.
The slapstick gags in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday are also some of the most creative ones that you’ll ever see in a classic comedy film. For example, at one point in the film, Monsieur Hulot goes kayaking, yet the kayak is far too small for him. After traveling for a short time, the kayak folds in half, making it look like a shark. But the gag doesn’t end there. When the shark-shaped kayak starts to close down on the shore, Monsieur Hulot tries to escape, making it look like the shark is trying to attack him, scaring everyone who is just relaxing on the beach. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’s style of comedy relies so heavily on slapstick to the point that it feels like a silent comedy with sound.
And lastly, I’d like to talk about the cinematography. The cinematography in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday isn’t one of the focuses of the film, like in other films that we’ve reviewed such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Red Shoes; the film is quiet, slow, and never really does anything complicated. The cinematography in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday serves another purpose: give the film its homey, fun, and joyful atmosphere. If the camera did grand spectacular moves, it would feel overly complicated for a film with such a personal and down-to-earth premise. The cinematography makes the movie feel realistic, almost as if you too were a guest in the hotel alongside Monsieur Hulot.
Overall, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is a comedic masterpiece and an essential viewing for the summer season.
Here at The CinemaScope, we recommend this picture.
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