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Directed by Jacques Tati

France 1967 115 mins. In French

Jacques Tati made a fitfully long career out of diagnosing and then holding a mirror to normative tendencies in French culture, most famously through his M. Hulot character, who often acts as a foil for the absurdity of everyday life. Playtime, his greatest film, sees Tati again donning his Hulot cap and entering the newly christened shrines of modern capitalism—the sleek and sterile office buildings of Paris. Through a series of nearly-silent gags (although sound is extremely important in the film), Tati skewers the solutionism of the modern workplace—and does so alongside a group of American tourists curious about the latest technologies, which of course heightens the film’s comedy. “Playtime, arguably the most ambitious visual comedy ever made, is hardly traditional—and it is certainly not small. Jacques Tati’s 1967 masterpiece goes far beyond satirizing modern architecture and technology to create a strangely elated celebration of the way people move through space.”—Imogen Sara Smith, Reverse Shot. “In a normal world, one would go out and walk into just any theater to see a film by Jacques Tati.”—Pedro Costa.

Genres: Comedy

Appears in: Essential Cinema