Review of Mon Oncle

Mon Oncle (1958)
That fantastic use of the color
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Each plan of Mon Oncle is a box of complementary colors cared to the millimeter. With this almost silent comedy, Tati recounts the frustrated attempts of Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati) to adapt to a modernized society while looking for work in his brother-in-law's factory. Far from remaining in simple gags, the film works intelligently as a critique of the modern design culture, emerging at the time.

"Everything is connected" is what Madame Arpel (Adrienne Servantie) keeps saying. This phrase in itself serves as an example of the satirical tone that permeates the film, since the connection between elements is one of the main values of modern architecture. Another of these values is the functionality of the elements, combined everything with the latest technological advances, which make the house another character (see the wonderful scene in which the house has eyes). Tati criticizes it by emptying inventions of their essential function: the designer chair that is not suitable for sitting down, the automatic garage door that does not open ...

What is it? Please don't insist. You heard my wife. We don't need any rugs. We have all we need. What? It's our neighbor! How good of you to come!

Jacques Tati: "I am not at all against modern architecture, but I believe it should come with not only a building but also a living permit."

But, without a doubt, the best cartoon of all is the social one. The story is channeled through diverse and stereotyped characters, with whom Tati underlines the culture of appearance. In the Arpel house the fountain is only lit when there are visitors, and if you want to reach the door of the building, you must risk your dignity by jumping from stone to stone so as not to step on the grass.

Charles Arpel: You heard my wife. We don't need any rugs. Neighbor: What? Madame Arpel: It's our neighbor!

Tati takes over from Chaplin and Lloyd and makes us smile with visual winks typical of silent comedy. In fact, we could say that Mon Oncle is the daughter of Modern Times: in it, Chaplin faces a new invention to eat and the assembly line; and at Mon Uncle, Hulot deals with the modern kitchen and the pipe making machine. The similarities are clear, unlike in Mon Oncle, the only mechanical work the protagonist does is going up and down the stairs of his house. As with the window and the bird. These quality gestures make a hole in the collective memory, next to the figure of Hulot with his hands resting on his back.
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