Though not well-known in the mainstream cinema, Monsieur Hulot’s character is one of the most iconic comic characters ever put on film. Like Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Homer Simpson, M. Hulot has a look that’s all his own. One look at his all beige clothing, oversized trench coat, undersized pants, his hat and pipe and you recognize him immediately. Even his gestures are trademark to Hulot, from him standing with his hands on his back to tapping his pipe on his shoe. He is a gentle giant whose awkward bumbling often places him out of touch with worlds outside of his own. In Mon Oncle, Tati looks at Hulot’s place in the modern world.
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday centered around….Monsieur’s Hulot’s Holiday. Mon Oncle brings us into Hulot’s personal life. In a cultural French village, M. Hulot (Tati) lives in an apartment with a labyrinth entranceway. The place feels as warm and inviting as the village from Jour de Fete. Its rustic brick layer buildings have a feel of history to them and the streets are alive with casual conversation and dogs running around. You instantly recognize folks in this area from the street sweeper to the vendor selling beaver tails. And then there’s the pretty young lady who’s attracted to the oblivious Hulot.
Walk through a brick wall and you’ll find yourself in the futuristic suburbia of Hulot’s sister, Georgette Arpel (Adrienne Servantie). In strong contrast to her brother, Georgette lives in the classic nuclear family along with her husband Charles (Jean-Pierre Zola) and their son Gerard (Alain Becourt). She’s cooks and cleans in a home full of grotesque Ikea furniture, futuristic technology and that ugly metal fish that shoots water out of its mouth whenever guests arrive.