Review: Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, 1953)

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It’s Mr. Bean before there was a Mr. Bean!

Screenplay By: Pierre Aubert, Jacques Lagrange, Henri Marquet & Jacques Tati
Directed By: Jacques Tati

I had never heard of Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot before I set the DVR to record it, but now after watching it I have discovered that it’s a much loved and revered film. The love I can go along with it, because I did love its minimalist nature, its quirkiness, and its laughs. I don’t know if I will ever get the reverence because most of that seems to be directed towards the idea of vacationing or a typical European holiday. I haven’t ever gone on a typical American vacation, let alone a European one, so that nostalgia trip is closed off to me.

When I say that Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot is minimalist, it is the most economical of movies. Every movement, every character, every place, every situation is played out in economical fashion to get the quickest and most sincere laugh possible. This doesn’t always work and some of the jokes or situations do fall flat, but when Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot is on you can’t help but to roar with laughter. There isn’t anything deep or intricate about the situations Mr. Hulot finds himself in, he is a big affable dolt and gets into situations that big affable dolts are likely to get into. But, being more of a dolt than most he takes even the most easily rectifiable situation and turns it into a disaster. Never in mean spirited fashion though, this is important to remember, Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot isn’t mean or evil; it is about a funny man in funny situations that can make you laugh.

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot is light fare, but it is good light fare. I often talk about needing to take a gander at lighter movies to give your brain a break, and Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot is the perfect movie to give your mind a rest to. That’s not to say that it is shoddily or poorly made or that it lacks intelligence, because it isn’t and it doesn’t. Sometimes you need a movie that is easy on the eyes and will make you laugh, that’s all.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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