Cult Rooms: Mon OncleWhat happens as modernism becomes monstrous? The home in a classic Jacques Tati film explores how functional design can lead to domestic dysfunction.

Cult Rooms: Mon OncleWhat happens as modernism becomes monstrous? The home in a classic Jacques Tati film explores how functional design can lead to domestic dysfunction.

“The home in Mon Oncle is a Frankenstein monster of modernism, stitching together pieces of Stilnovo and Paul McCobb”

In Mon Oncle, a 1958 film by Jacques Tati, the daring French parodist hangs his hat on old-fashioned European aesthetics. To illustrate the dangers of modern design, he gives us the Arpel family and their newfangled suburban home. There are no hat racks in the Villa Arpel foyer, of course, such common efficiencies having no place there. Rather, the hearth is given up for haute couture, and M. Hulot (Tati’s reliably antimodern hero) must clutch his signature bucket cap as he avoids the dangers of contemporary living.

The home in Mon Oncle is a Frankenstein monster of modernism, stitching together pieces of Stilnovo and Paul McCobb. The exterior—with its dull gray façade and goggle-like upstairs windows—resembles a welder’s mask. Along its perimeter runs a metal-slatted fence wit...

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