Play Time

Director: Jacques Tati
Year Released: 1967
Rating: 1.5

Tati envisions a France where the well-known artifacts like the Eiffel Tower are 'hidden' behind giant block buildings and where modern technology causes more problems than it solves (which was also echoed in Mon Oncle, oh, and Chaplin too). Trouble is, without a central figure to all of this modern alienation that so threatens humanity - M. Hulot, Tati's alter-ego, is only a figure in a landscape - this picture succeeds in being alienating in itself: without someone to react fully to the confusing architecture and hustle-bustle, there's no one to identify with. Though the first hour does have its moments (as tourists try to find their way around), part two inexplicably becomes all-consumed with its new restaurant-setup where everything that can go wrong does - it's like an Arbuckle picture stretched out to the point of total banality. The brilliance of Mr. Hulot's Holiday was that pity could be felt for the Hulot character, just trying to fit in and enjoy his vacation, but there's little empathy to be found here: it's 1967, and Tati acts like he's first walking out of Plato's Cave.