CIFF Diary: Day 12 - "Holidays by the sea are groovy..."

10/18 - ...or so goes the hilarious tune that is performed by a colorful punk/ska band of musicians who frame the new French comedy by Pascal Rabate, Holidays by the Sea, setting a whimsical tone for this nearly wordless homage to the comedic films of the highly regarded French film maker and actor Jacques Tati; a talent, I must confess, that never connected with my funny bone.  With that said, Holidays by the Sea is sometimes boisterously funny, and the kind of film that may have allowed just the right kind of respite for those who have taken the CIFF journey along with me, and perhaps failed to dig the feel-good qualities of The Turin Horse (click on the trailer, which pretty much says it all).

Dominique Pinon and Delphine Bronzi in Holidays by the Sea
For fans of Dominique Pinon, Holidays by the Sea is a sure win.  Although he is not the lead actor here, if you have seen Pinon in the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (DelicatessenCity of Lost Children), then you are familiar with the kind of acting projects that Pinon fits into best.  Holidays is perfect for Pinon, with his effortless physical humor and his endlessly interesting and impossibly pinched countenance.  If you are one of those who is just annoyed by Jeunet's penchant for visual indulgence over story, then Holidays might not be for you.  But, there is a surprising weight to the central idea of Holidays, which is perhaps what separates it from Jeunet's less-than-satisfying outings.

Dominique Pinon in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs
Maria de Medeiros and Jacques Gamblin in Holidays by the Sea
Holidays by the Sea operates mostly as a critique of bourgeois life, using the vacation as a way to playfully pull off the thin veil of religious convictions that the characters adhere to, in varying degrees, within their workaday lives.  The film uses a clever array of characterizations to bounce this critique off of, from a fetishist who suffers being tied to a bed frame at the cost of seeking his kicks (which includes using a certain orifice as a vase for a bouquet of rose stems), to the central couple of the film, an aging, overweight pair that rediscover a bit of their passion for one another amid the confines of a cultural construct that they have learned to fit into through routine, although they barely fit into it physically.  Campsite families mingle and gather for cocktails, couples swap partners, and teenagers have their first sexual encounters while the adults play.  Although all of this may sound kind of expected, the inspired visual storytelling keeps Holidays afloat for it's brief 77-minute running time.  It ultimately doesn't need to be anything more than what it is, though on a level of ideas, what it is might strike you as being a bit more substantial than what you expect.   

Up Next:  Wim Wenders comes to Chicago to introduce his new 3-D dance film, Pina   


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