Once a year the fair comes for one day to the little town 'Sainte-Severe-sur-Indre'. All inhabitants are scoffing at Francois, the postman, what he seems not to recognize. The rising of the... See full summary »
Monsieur Hulot curiously wanders around a high-tech Paris, paralleling a trip with a group of American tourists. Meanwhile, a nightclub/restaurant prepares its opening night, but it's still under construction.
A boxer is out in the country with his entourage, training for his next fight. Meanwhile, on the farm nearby, Roger is neglecting his chores. As he watches the boxer and his sparring ... See full summary »
At Altra Motors, Mr. Hulot designs an ingenious camper car with lots of clever features. A lorry hauls the prototype to an important auto show in Amsterdam, with Mr. Hulot alongside in his car and a spoiled, trendy PR exec, the young Maria, in her sports car packed with designer clothes and her fluffy dog. The lorry has every imaginable problem, delaying its arrival. A flat tire, no gas, an accident, a run-in with police, a stop at a garage, and numerous traffic jams showcase vignettes of people and their cars. Through interactions with these down-to-earth folks, Maria gradually loses her imperious conceit, becoming much more relaxed and fetching.Written by
At the car-show in Amsterdam, Hulot's company Altra has a spot which is captured by Volvo and their new series Volvo 140 sedan and Volvo 145 station-wagon. See more »
Several (Dutch) license plates can be seen on various different vehicles, sometimes even in the same shot. For instance the license plate "FT-92-65" can be seen in the petrol station scene on both a Peugeot 504 and a Chrysler 180. Later the same plate is on a Peugeot 204 passing in front of the exhibition center.
In the "road rage" scene the number 76-04-NF is on both the Renault 16 and the Citroën ID. Shortly after the same plate is on an Opel Kadett parked in front of the exhibition center. See more »
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.
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