Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Conventional Hulot
Jacques Tati attempts to drastically transform his alter ego for the final installment of the Hulot series, and naturally you can't blame him (one being that this comes after the financial disaster of Playtime, but especially because of the fact that he has added dimensions to Hulot in every film) but in most respects, Traffic is considerably stunted. It's still quite good, but a serious disappointment after Holiday, Oncle, and Playtime, which after ascending in genius and brilliance, there would be no place to go but down.
Traffic has the most conventional plot of the entire series - there's a set goal (getting the Altra car to the convention) - but rather than making the film more accessible, it only makes it more alien. All the Hulot films are blithely and happily adrift, propelled only by its jokes and reoccurring characters, but in the case of having a clear goal in mind, the deliberate slow pacing begins to weigh the film down. Because we are anticipating their arrival at the car show, throughout the movie we wonder what's in store and the build-up creates impatience, rather than the usual relaxation. If Tati was going for accessibility and conventionality, why didn't he employ a faster, three-act structure?
It's unfortunate to see gone the Hulot of old who was content on just walking around for days; in Trafic he's constantly running around doing busy work (he's on screen for nearly half the movie but actually doesn't do much of anything noteworthy). Like in the other films, he never knows what to do with himself and the world doesn't know what to do with him, but in Trafic, the problem is that this is a world Hulot created: he designed the Altra and it is he who wants to get it to the car show. He is imposing himself on the world, rather than the world that is crashing down on him and him fighting back, so the gags and observations aren't as pure or natural.
The stops the mini-caravan makes and the exploration of new roadside towns are perfect opportunities to bring back the old Hulot, but Tati seems almost afraid to let the world come to Hulot on their own terms. Scenes like two kids playing a beautiful tune on an acoustic by a lake or Hulot arriving at a convenience store feel like set-ups for great scenes which were left on the editing room floor.
I still really enjoyed the movie (there are some inspired visuals and Hulot is Hulot; it's always great to see him on the screen) but these were specific negative points I thought were worth bringing up.