Jour de fête
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Tati’s first feature film, which had its premiere at the 1949 Venice International Film Festival, introduces several elements that the director continues to explore throughout his career. Perhaps chief among these is the immaculately choreographed slapstick for which Tati is so deservingly loved, with Tati himself taking the central role as the clumsy catalyst for a string of near-disasters. Reduced reliance on dialogue – a hallmark of both ‘Les Vacances de M. Hulot’ and ‘Play Time’ – is explored here, especially in the central character’s garbled mumblings to himself.
It’s fête day and François, the local postman, is hard at work, delivering the daily mail on his bicycle. Among the fair’s attractions is a film reel that portrays how the post is handled in America – and the space-age methods of the modern US Postal Service inspire François to step up his game and start delivering parcels in the lazy town ‘à l’américain’, with truly hilarious results.
The film gently pokes fun at the postwar predilection for ‘progress’ and ‘convenience’ through visions of American postal workers jumping through fiery hoops on motorcycles, placing this against a charmingly lazy rural French setting, whose pace of life is best summed up in one of the film’s final lines: ‘If it’s good news, it can wait.’