Saturday, 28 May 2011
If Mr. Hulot’s Holiday was a refreshing comedy and Mon Oncle a lovely concoction of comedy and mild satire, Playtime, the third film in Tati’s brilliant Monsieur Hulot series, was a raging satire of the highest order – a cringing body blow against incessant automation and ultra-modernization. Unlike in the previous two films, the Paris we all know of is completely invisible here; instead what we have is a gray, wan, drab and utterly impersonal urban jungle of glass, steel and gadgets, and a never-ending stream of automobiles. And in this immensely dreary post-modern world, Hulot seems to be comically and anachronistically out of place – a nostalgic symbol of a lost era. The film is filled with some terrific gags and set-pieces, with the runaway winners being an elaborate, carnivalesque sequence at an upscale, recently refurbished restaurant, and one of the most unforgettable traffic jams ever recorded on screen. Its greatest achievement is that, despite being filled with blistering satire and sulphureous ironies, the message is never in-your-face, as they have been beautifully masqueraded through amazing wit and humour. Sadly for us cinephiles, because of its ambitious scale and radical scope, this movie nearly destroyed Tati’s career as a filmmaker par excellence.
Director: Jacques Tati
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Urban Comedy