Featurete is a surreal, comic vision of modern life in which the director's much-loved character, Monsieur Hulot - accompanied by a cast of tourists and well-heeled Parisians - turns unintentional anarchist when set loose in an unrecognisable Paris of steel skyscrapers, chrome-plated shopping malls and futuristic night spots.
Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden, France Rumilly, France Delahalle, Valérie Camille, Erika Dentzler, Nicole Ray, Yvette Ducreux, Nathalie Jem, Jacqueline Lecomte, Oliva Poli, Alice Field
Inexplicably overrated 'classic'
- Playtime review by IKM
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High-minded critics are wont to describe Jacques Tati's 'Play Time' as a surreal and penetrating satirical vision of the modern world; in fact it's insufferably smug, excruciatingly dull and painfully, fatally unfunny. Tati is often compared to earlier giants of silent comedy like Chaplin and Keaton, but on this evidence he has precious little of Chaplin's empathy and grace and even less of Keaton's frenetic physical dexterity and dynamism. In fairness, it is visually quite interesting, but its intentionally drab colour palette and boxy concrete office and apartment blocks are actually nowhere near as imaginative or as interesting as the kind of high modernism Tati evidently thinks he is poking fun at.
It's tempting to surmise that this is a once great film of its particular time that simply hasn't aged well, but actually its critical reputation has only grown over the years - on its release, audiences reportedly found it unoriginal and trite. They were right and subsequent generations of critics are most definitely wrong.