Weird Cinema: Jacques Tati’s Debut Film Jour de fête (1949)

Jacques Tati’s debut film and it’s an absolute banger. Tati, as the unaware mailman, navigates his real home town, sliding and ducking objects, getting thrown in and out of restaurants, and above all, delivering the mail through it all. It’s incredibly funny slapstick with some of Tati’s best gags involved and one of his best characters. 

The mailman character is less refined than his world renowned Hulot. He’s a simpleton. Going to and fro his destination with a one-track mind, in a one-track plot. He takes joy in the companionship of his customers and the livelihood of the neighborhood.

Even more, Tati captures the petty disagreements and small idiosyncrasies through the stumbling mailman. He falls backwards and the editing flawlessly links all these quick developing story arcs all happening through the mailman. The editing has a purpose and moves from story beats in such satisfyingly comedic ways.

Moreover, the Tati blocking and staging in combination with the editing of each gag has a flow to it. The film never seems to stop moving and the timing on the slapstick elements are so wildly engaging. Furthermore, it greatly uses tropes that are well known today like the rake take and of course, Tati understands the foundation of why it’s funny and builds it up to shockingly effective degrees

Truthfully, Jour de Fête serves as one of my favorites from Tati. He serves up a more simple experience from a structural standpoint, but the humor is so raw and natural. It seems as if Tati himself rolled out of bed and started his day as a mailman. It’s believable in how he views the culture and people and how his humor reflects their everyday personalities perfectly. Excellent film.

Rating

★★★★½/O Out of 5★s (92)

(93-85-96-94-90-93-92-96-92-85-94-93-90-86: 91.35)


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