Time After Time: The Films of Alain Resnais

Mon oncle d'Amerique

Alain Resnais

"The funniest movie about the horrors of working since Charles Chaplin's Modern Times" (Andrew Sarris). A comedy about behaviourism certainly sounds cerebral and rarefied, even for Resnais, but the result is anything but: playful, engrossing, elegant, witty, poignant, and more relevant with each new source of social anxiety, Mon oncle d'Amérique turned an improbable premise into an arthouse hit. To illustrate scientist and philosopher Henri Laborit's theories about how modern society is ruled by primitive instincts, Resnais intertwines the stories of three contrasting characters — a peasant who has risen to become the head of a textile plant (Gérard Depardieu); a leftist ex-actress now in the fashion-design business (Nicole Garcia); and an ambitious, ultra-bourgeois media executive (Roger Pierre) — whose self-images are at least partially patterned after their identification with classic French film stars (Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, and Jean Marais, respectively). The praise for Mon oncle was voluble and unanimous: "By far the best film of the year" (Richard Corliss); "the most provocative movie of the season" (David Denby); "the best film, from any source, this year" (Derek Malcolm).

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