Thematically as well, Jour de fête offers a kind of blueprint to Tati’s subsequent oeuvre, despite the fact that it offers the only rural setting in his work apart from the middle section of Traffic. The enormous impact of the French newsreel about American postal delivery... initiates a complex and ambivalent critique of technology in general and Americanization in particular that informs the remainder of Tati’s work, apparent even in the bilingual titles of his last three films.
Wistful coziness and meticulous experimentation already comprise the captivating aesthetic in Tati’s feature debut, a paean to pastoral plainness along with an ode to modern rapidité. The comic invention is fast and fertile: Lumière’s arroseur falls through floorboards and becomes a fountain, the back of a moving truck doubles as a stamping office, a window opens to alter the composition and a door closes to reveal a mortuary.
The film exhibits Tati’s elastic expertise at mime, including a tour-de-force drunk bike ride, as well as displaying his immediate talents as a director, constructing brilliantly funny gags through choreography and sound design. All of the gags generate from a small town’s resistance to and obsession with technological advancement, especially as trumpeted by the Americans.