Jacques Tati's 1958 film is a transitional work between the character-centered comedy of Jour de Fete
and Mr. Hulot's Holiday
and the global perspective of his most formally inventive film, Playtime
. Hulot is still here, but he no longer occupies the foreground; set off to one side, as the eccentric uncle of a desperately modern family, he is more of a visiting sprite, suggesting a human alternative to the mechanical life forms that occupy the center of the story. Tati hasn't quite solved the structural problem he posed for himself, but if the film isn't wholly satisfying, it's still a very witty and suggestive work from the modern cinema's only answer to Chaplin and Keaton. In French with subtitles.