After the disappointments of Stavisky and Providence, Resnais here retrieves his position as a great film innovator. My American Uncle takes three middle class characters (two of them from well-defined working class backgrounds) and leads them through a labyrinth of 'stress' situations. The tone hovers between soap opera and docudrama, consistently pleasurable if hardly gripping. Then it introduces its fourth major character, Henri Laborit, a bona fide behavioural scientist, who discusses his theories of biological and emotional triggers. Shortsighted critics seem to imagine that the fictional material merely illustrates what Laborit says, although Resnais inserts some jokey shots of 'human' mice to demolish any such notions. His triumph is to create a new kind of fiction: a drama that not only leaves room to think, but opens up fissures that thoughts flood into, some prompted by Laborit, others by personal reflections, yet others by dreams. Inevitably, it ends in a riddle, and one which proves that surrealism lives.
Mon Oncle d'Amérique
Cast and crew