Filmed on a huge, complex set suggestive of the cool, vaguely dehumanising effects of technology and design on modern life, Jacques Tati’s masterpiece offers a low-key account of the bumbling Hulot’s experiences during one day in Paris. An office block of glass and steel becomes a boxed-in prison; a chaotic restaurant provides a memorably liberating opportunity for humanity to express itself.
“Tati’s ruinously ambitious masterpiece starts as a satire of modern architecture and becomes a strangely beatific celebration of the way people move through public spaces. A film about minor embarrassments and fleeting connections between strangers, it begins in alienation and builds to a transcendent vision of communal harmony. Gruelling labour went into each seemingly effortless grace note, as Tati the performer drifts in aimless bewilderment through the world that Tati the director obsessively controls. In Playtime, the movie screen is an idealised public space in which Tati’s people demonstrate the joys of being one-dimensional.” Imogen Sara Smith
“There are plenty of films that offer a critique of technology and modernity. Yet, with his distinctive, meticulous mise en scène, which exploits depth of field in an unparalleled way, and his peculiar ‘downgrading’ of dialogue to a sound like any other, boosting the communicative role of the image, Tati does so in a unique and radical fashion.” Cristina Formenti
“One of the most ambitious films ever made.” Jai Arjun Singh