Mon Oncle is a 1958 film by French filmmaker Jacques Tati. The film centers on the awkward and lovable character, Monsieur Hulot, and his struggle with postwar France’s infatuation with modern architecture, mechanical efficiency, and American-style consumerism. Young Gérard, who lives with his materialistic parents in an ultra-modern house and garden (Villa Arpel) in a new suburb of Paris, relies on his adored uncle, M. Hulot, to provide random escapes from his sterile and monotonous life at home.
Despite the superficial beauty of its modern design, Villa Arpel is entirely impersonal, as are the Arpels themselves. Tati uses monochromatic shades and cloudy days to illustrate the Arpel’s home life and vivid colors and bright light to coincide with the arrival of Uncle Hulot and other visitors. In choosing modern architecture to illustrate his satire, Jacques Tati once stated, “Les lignes géométriques ne rendent pas les gens aimables” (“geometrical lines do not produce likeable people”). Every facet of Villa Arpel emphasizes the supremacy of superficial aesthetics and electrical gadgets over the reality of daily living.