Tati's final theatrical film, which is often considered his greatest failure, is in actuality nearly as good as his masterpieces. In this film, Tati stars for the fourth and final time as M. Hulot. This time he has a job as an automobile designer, and it is his job to get his company's new Camping Car to Amsterdam for a big auto show. Accompanying him is a driver, François, and a public relations worker, Maria (played marvelously by Maria Kimberly, who reminds us of the great lead actress roles played by Nathalie Pascaud and Barbara Denneck in M. Hulot's Holiday and Playtime respectively). Maria drives around in a little yellow convertible with her little fur-ball dog. Its fast and maneuverable. It can go pretty much anywhere it wants. Unfortunately, François and M. Hulot are driving a large truck. They often get into trouble when they're trying to follow Maria's car. Every problem that can happen does. Many observations are made about how people act when they're in their cars on the highway (it's a non-stop traffic jam from Paris to Amsterdam). The jokes in Traffic are always hilarious. The first fifteen or twenty minutes are somewhat dry of them, which is mainly why I don't rank this one up there with M. Hulot's Holiday, Mon Oncle, and Playtime (it's about even with Jour de fête). But when it gets going, it never stops. And it's beautiful, too, just as all of his other films. The final sequence is sublime, and the final shot will stay with me forever. 9/10.
Mr. Hulot drives a recreational vehicle from Paris to Amsterdam in his usual comical, disastrous style.
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July 22, 2019