Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Alternate title: Play Time
France/Italy, 1967. Specta Films, Jolly Film. Screenplay by Jacques Lagrange, Jacques Tati, additional English dialogue by Art Buchwald. Cinematography by Jean Badal, Andreas Winding. Produced by Bernard Maurice. Music by Francis Lemarque. Production Design by Eugene Roman. Costume Design by Jacques Cottin. Film Editing by Gerard Pollicand.
This extraordinary film by Jacques Tati will seem at first like the ultimate test of patience, but give it a chance. It takes a while to warm up, but once you get yourself acclimated to its non-narrative plotting and gorgeously atmospheric tempo, you’ll be amazed by its constant rhythm and beauty. The maestro himself appears in his usual Monsieur Hulot getup as he arrives at a Parisian airport looking to meet an American official. He is instead swept away by a group of crass American tourists and they all wander through the gadget-laden, ultra-modern City Of Lights before settling into a long, inexplicably cool third act in a swanky nightclub. It’s no surprise that the budget on this film pretty much broke the bank: the entire thing is shot on enormous sets and some of them are wondrous to behold in their immensity and sharpness. Tati’s talent for allowing small, incidental moments of humour to occur between people constantly running into each other in their pursuit of their own solitary desires is at its zenith. The film took three years to make, and its every assured move is proof.
The Criterion Collection: #112