Tuesday, 23 March 2010
We watched this movie at Christmas. I had been meaning to buy it for ages because I felt sure that my son would like it. But the nearer we got to watching it, the more I worried that he would be bored by it. I had not seen it as a child. I first saw it at the Everyman in Hampstead if memory serves. Would it work for a 12 year-old?
Once again this is a movie has children at its heart whilst not being actually for them. I suppose this could be classed as a family film, but it is possibly a little too sophisticated for that classification to be a perfect fit.
The main example of the way in which it doe not try hard enough to keep younger viewers on board, is in the pacing of the gags. This is not a criticism by the way. I get so tired of the idea that everything has to be traveling at full pelt to be engaging, particularly to children.
It takes nerve to slow things down. There is a running gag about a street sweeper who never seems to actually get round to sweeping. It is not pushed forward and then discarded as it would be in a contemporary comedy. It is savoured. It is allowed time. A similar indulgence is given to the sight gag of Tati entering and leaving his apartment. It is almost painfully slow. But brilliant because of it.
It was already a nostalgic movie when it came out and is more so now of course. But its attack on modern living still seems to work. Tati saw the ridiculous side of people willingly becoming slaves to their machines - he would have had even more material now of course. But mainly it is a hymn to mess, to accident, to childhood and to free spirit.
And did my son think I was mad for showing it to him? Thankfully no. He loved it. I think he laughed as much at this movie as any comedy he's seen.
Go and buy a copy of this movie immediately. If you haven't seen it you are in for a treat. If you have, remind yourself of how good it is. It is wonderful. And the closing credits are astonishingly beautiful. Who could have thought a net curtain blowing in the breeze could look so lovely?