★★★½ - STUFF
- An undemanding, near-silent, delightful slice of escapism -
If you’re a fan of French film-making giant Jacques Tati, then you’ll adore this near-silent homage.
While he may look a little more swarthy than the gangly Gallic star of Playtime, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday and Mon Oncle, Northern Irish actor Ciaran Hinds is an expressive delight as the eponymous l’homme au chapeau, delivering only two lines of dialogue, despite being in virtually every frame.
After he witnesses a body being dumped, the man is forced to go on the run in his Fiat 500, using all of his wits and local knowledge to try to evade the attentions of the quintet of ne'er-do-wells in their Citroen Dyane. His travails bring him into contact with a range of eclectic and eccentric characters, including a priest, two road surveyors (who he helps find love), a group of female mechanics and a bicycle-riding mysterious woman in red.
Best known respectively for travel series with Stephen Fry and Michael Palin and the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love score, directors John-Paul Davidson and Stephen Warbeck have crafted a winsome, whimsical delight that’s the winning blend of French farce, multiple musical interludes and gorgeous-looking countryside and comestibles. Sure the plot may be as substantial as a souffle, but it rises occasionally with deliciously satisfying results.
Visual humour abounds, while the film makes the rare vignettes of dialogue count. Likewise, the musical interludes are memorable, particularly a garage-set spectacular and market-based version of Try a Little Tenderness, featuring an increasingly out-of-control food fight.
Hinds’ (Justice League’s Steppenwolf, Game of Thrones’ Mance Rayder) everyman takes all the madness in his stride, just as concerned about spilling sardine juice on his shirt (and coming up with a quite brilliant solution to remove the stain), as he is fearing for his life.
An undemanding, but delightful slice of escapism.
- James Croot, STUFF
The Man in the Hat is now playing at Light House Cinema!
In French with English subtitles