Movie Review by Alice Castle
Starring: Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden, France Rumilly, France Delahalle
Director: Jacques Tati
Often regarded as Jacques Tati’s masterpiece – super stylish PLAYTIME (1967) doesn’t look dated in our post-modern landscape of minimalist design populated with Phillipe Stark furniture. Poking fun at the modern world, Tati stars as Monsieur Hulot and begins his adventure at Paris airport where he gets swept along in a crowd of American tourists and finds himself in a spanking new office complex.
As he tries to make sense of his surroundings, Hulot is confused by glass panels, plastic chairs and a maze of office cubicles. Meanwhile the Parisians around him, go about their business – rushing to and from business meetings, rushing on and off buses and in and out of taxis. Few seem to have problems with the technology around them – though the elaborate office intercom system even manages to confuse its operator. The film climaxes in a farcical restaurant opening – and as the evening develops, luxurious interiors begin to crumble before your eyes and a party gets out of hand.
It took five months and one hundred workers to build the elaborate film set – a city within a city nicknamed ‘Tati-ville’. The original work was over three hours long, and despite being cut down to a more manageable length was not a box office success in the late sixties. Maybe it was unable to hold the audience’s attention – as PLAYTIME lacks any real plot and the use of stereophonic sound zoning in and out on different conversations and sound effects, results in no real dialogue. Nevertheless it is a style classic, beautifully detailed and flawlessly edited.