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Masterpiece Cinema - Mon Oncle

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Mon Oncle

Starring Jacques Tati.

Written & Directed by Jacques Tati.

Genre: Comedy

Released: 1958

Running time: 110 min.

Rated: G

IMDb link:

Remember, way back in the very first installment of this here column,
how I said I wouldn't be discussing pretentious French films, and then
I immediately rescinded that statement? No, neither do I. In any case,
I did say that, and it's a good thing, too, because today I'm going to
talk about a French film. Lucky for us, however, that it's far from

In fact, Mon Oncle is all about making fun of
pretensions. Starring Jacques Tati as his infamous character Monsieur
Hulot, Mon Oncle is all about an affluent suburban family who is overly
impressed with the new, ultra-modern house they've just bought. Well,
the mother and father are taken with it. Their son finds the place
stifling and longs for the visits of his uncle – Monsieur Hulot – that
always break the monotony and provide some much needed laughter. Unlike
his sister and brother-in-law, Hulot prefers to live on the other side
of town, eschewing modern ‘conveniences' for a much more traditional
and laidback lifestyle. With his trademark raincoat, pipe and umbrella,
he bumbles his way through social conventions, generally making a mess
of things and doing his best not to get caught for it.

Despite whatever reservations you might have about slapstick comedy,
Mon Oncle is, in fact, a surprisingly brilliant film. Lurking beneath
the surface of a light-hearted exercise in silliness is a razor sharp
example of social satire, where the priorities of the modern lifestyle
are expertly parodied.

Even though the ending of the film may
seem saccharine with the reestablishment of the father and son's
relationship, it's actually quite a sad coda for the film; the days of
Monsieur Hulot and his ilk are over for France, and for the world in
general. All we have now to look forward to is the stifling embrace of

Who said slapstick couldn't be relevant? Check it out and see if you find yourself enjoying this movie. Believe me: you will!

Next week: No clue. Don't worry, I'll think of something....

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