Mon Oncle

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"Mr Hulot takes a precious, playful ... and purely premeditated look at modern times ..."
  • NR
  • 1958
  • 1 hr 57 min
  • 7.7  (23,802)

Mon Oncle is a French comedy film by Jacques Tati released in 1958. The film is a satirical commentary on the modern society's growing fascination with material possessions, technological advancement and industry, which threatens to push aside the simple pleasures of life and the beauty of nature. Tati presents these ideas through his character Monsieur Hulot, a middle-aged man belonging to a generation that is out of place in this modern, high-tech world.

The film takes place in a suburb of Paris, where Mr. Hulot lives in a small, old-fashioned house with his sister and brother-in-law, Madame and Monsieur Arpel, who are a part of the new, upper-class bourgeoisie. Monsieur Arpel is a successful businessman who has various high-tech gadgets installed in his house, including a fish-shaped fountain, automatic garage doors that open and close at a push of a button, and a state-of-the-art kitchen. However, his son Gerard is bored and lonely, as he has no one to play with in the sterile and predictable environment of his high-tech, modernistic house.

Mr. Hulot, who is unemployed, spends his days wandering around the city, observing the world around him, and making clumsy attempts to find work. Gerard is fascinated by his uncle and bonds with him when he comes to visit their home in contrast to his father, who is constantly irritated by Mr. Hulot's absent-minded and disruptive behaviour, which makes him feel embarrassed in front of his important business associates.

The film's main themes revolve around the tension between the traditional and the modern, the simple and the complex, and the search for human connection in an impersonal, technologically-driven world. Tati uses a variety of visual and sound gags to explore these themes, often showing the Arpels' obsession with the latest gadgets and trends, while Mr. Hulot, in contrast, is always engrossed in the world around him, filled with unexpected quirks and surprises.

One of the most memorable sequences in the film is when Monsieur Arpel's boss, M. Pichard, visits their home for dinner. In a hilarious scene, Pichard struggles to use the Arpels' modern kitchen gadgets, demonstrating the absurdity of technology when it is not user-friendly. The scene is a comment on the growing emphasis on efficiency and speed at the expense of the quality of life.

Although the film is a comedy, it is also a commentary on the human experience and the importance of maintaining a connection to the natural world and the simplicity of a life free of constant technological bombardment.

The film's soundtrack by Franck Barcellini and Alain Romans juxtaposes the traditional music of Mr. Hulot's world with the modern music accompanying the Arpels' world, again highlighting the contrast between the two different lifestyles.

Overall, Mon Oncle is a classic film that has stood the test of time as a witty and insightful social commentary on the changing values of the 20th century. The film's gentle humour and charming performance by Tati make it a must-watch for anyone interested in the art of cinema and the development of modern society.

Mon Oncle is a 1958 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7.

Mon Oncle
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Where to Watch Mon Oncle
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  • Release Date
    1958
  • MPAA Rating
    NR
  • Runtime
    1 hr 57 min
  • Language
    French
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (23,802)