The Man in the Hat (2020). Film review of the France-set comedy about a man trying to escape the mafia



star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day of The Man in the Hat, the comedy about a man how journeys through France to evade a Mafia hit squad and the weird and wonderful people he meets. Starring Ciarán Hinds.

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While enjoying a pleasent and quiet evening meal at a restaurant in Marsellie, a man (Ciarán Hinds) witnesses a group of men dumping in the river a bagged, human-sized object. Fearing the worse, he gets in his trusty Fiat 500 and drives through local villages and towns, chased by them all the way. He meets many new and, sometimes very strange people along the way.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

As anyone knows from reading my reviews, I do love a silent film!

After the multiple-Oscar snaffling, international box-office smash The Artist (2012) proved that the silent movie art form wasn’t really dead, just long dormant, I expected a mini deluge of others to follow.

Naïve, if not stupid of me for while a few have been released in the years since (some of them, such as the Spanish effort Blancanieves, released the same year in fact), it’s been more trickle than tsunami.

It’s lovely then to see this very recent production, not actually a silent film as there is plenty of noise and effects on the soundtrack, but very little dialogue.

In fact, for lead actor Hinds, hardly any words are spoken, apart from the odd grunt or exasperated wheeze. It’s a unique voice, you can never mistake who it belongs to because it sounds so much like it fits within the mouth and head it has escaped – flabby, wobbly, always of an indeterminately middle age.

Hinds is always a watchable actor and to keep the audience amused and mystified The Man in the Hat needs him, for it is the slightest of movies.

It might be a sweet, cute, modern-day Homer’s Odyssey car journey through the perpetually sun-kissed south France and last only an hour and 35 minutes, but that really is all there is going on.

Yes I know this is basically a pretext to him getting off his arse and searching for love, but don’t expect to be thrilled or chilled.

Chucking in a few Jacques Tati/Monsieur Hulot moments as our man in a fedora meets useless suicidal chicken lover Stephen Dillane (a hotel owner complains of the hole left in her ceiling when he fails to blow his brains out) and onion chomping gay French farmers et al does however raise a few smiles. It might just be a silly car ride, but these characters are delightfully odd.

The use of incredible coincidence is quite charming. After Hinds’ beloved Fiat 500 is impounded, a bloke on a tandem with a spare seat magically turns up.

Old-timer cast members Joseph Marcell (butler Geoffrey in TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and Shelia Reid (Benidorm) who engage in fabulously vigorous sex that keeps Hinds awake one night.

For more silent cinema review for me, check these out on my blog.

Cast & credits

Directors: John-Paul Davidson, Stephen Warbeck. 1hr 35 min/95mins. Open Palm Films/Rather Good Films. (12).

Producers: Dominic Dromgoole, Daniel-Konrad Cooper.
Writers: John-Paul Davidson, Stephen Warbeck.
Camera: Kaname Onoyama.
Music: Stephen Warbeck.
Sets: Caroline Steiner.

Ciarán Hinds, Stephen Dillane, Sasha Hails, Maïwenn, Muna Otaru, Brigitte Roüan, Claire Tran, Xavier Laurent, Amit Shah, Zoé Bruneau, Joseph Marcell, Sheila Reid.


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