slightly pop-eyed visage, was fairly well-dressed and might almost have been accepted by the terribly bourgeoise society in which he was engaged, in this film, located in Sint-Marc-sur-Mer, primarily at the Hôtel de la Plage—if only he hadn’t present a sense of chaos whenever he appeared: massive windstorms arrive just as he does, terrors of sharks occur when even attempts to take a seaside journey out a small boat which, cracking in half, embalms him into his innards, and major fireworks display occurs when he stumbles into a small beach cottage, not to speak of his constantly puttering Citroën 2CV car for which even dogs won’t rise up from their naps in the street and which constantly collapses into a vehicle unable to go any further.
Indeed, these travelers, taking the renowned French vacation, seem absolutely unable to speak to one another. The boring round-bellied businessman is called repeatedly to his phone (reminding one a bit of the Hollywood producer in Altman’s Gosford Park). The Major (André Dubois) can only recount his war-times experiences—mostly made-up we are certain—to a couple of elderly British women. The hotel proprietor (Lucien Frégis) clearly hates his waiter (Raymond Carl), a socialist and political pair talk only to one another, and an early dining couple escape the trouble of having to deal with any of the others. Yet all are greedy, rushing each time the bell rings to call them to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Nonetheless, Hulot is loved by the most beautiful woman visiting this small town and he has more in common with the often-mischievous young boys (reminding one of Jean Vigo’s slightly older students in Zero for Conduct) and is popular with the young beach boys as well. It is only the tourists who dislike this foolish man, for the locals realize themselves as fools as well, preening to the beautiful woman tourist, and pretending equally clumsy tricks so that they might cover up their voyeuristic pleasures.