Mon Oncle d'Amerique (1980)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Satire  |   Release Date - May 21, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Costello

One rarely associates the austere films of Alain Resnais with comedy, but in his first real hit, the director's exploration of the theories of behavioral scientist Henri Laborit is surprisingly amusing. Resnais has often dwelt on the influence of the past upon the present, and the determinism that renders freedom chimerical. Here, he returns to the theme, in following the lives of three French professionals whose lives never intersect until the latter part of the film. The doctor appears onscreen in a white lab coat explaining the vagaries of their behavior, which is illustrated by human-sized mice responding to carrot-and-stick incentives. Like Johnson's The Vanity of Human Wishes, it emphasizes the way in which the character's intention or plans rarely come pass in the way they imagine, and is especially funny and discerning on the fate of '60s self-proclaimed revolutionaries turned '80s yuppies. If the film is finally as sobering as his more overtly serious about the way social phenomena mold behavior, the journey is much more fun than usual. Gerard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger-Pierre all are excellent as the trio in search of an elusive happiness.