The Nuart is showing (November 27 to December 3) the pristine Cinematheque Francaise/Thomson/Technicolor restored print of M. Hulot’s Holiday, originally shot in black-and-white in 1953 and reedited by Jacques Tati in 1978. Seeing the French comedy classic was a high point of Cannes last May.
This sojourn on the Atlantic coast of France stars the director for the first time as the pipe-smoking, awkward, impish Hulot, who pulls up in a rickety jalopy to join a group of vacationers, some likable, some not. One shot of a little boy carefully, slowly walking up steps with a fresh ice cream cone in each hand is indelible. Tati’s a physical, largely silent gag comedian, but weirdly he’s also sexy and cool.
“Tati’s masterpiece features some of the funniest and loveliest slapstick imaginable,” writes critic Dave Kehr, “yet it is also a work of impressive formal innovation, casting off the tyranny of a plotline in favor of loosely associated tones, episodes, and images. The soundtrack, in which dialogue is subsumed by sound effects, is a masterful piece of musique concrète.”