The Man in the Hat
By Kat Halstead,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
French comedy has some sexual and suicide references.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The importance of kindness to strangers, and not judging or jumping to conclusions.
Positive Role Models
The main character -- The Man in the Hat -- perseveres in the face of obstacles and shows a kindness that is also reflected in the strangers he meets. Two poor farmers are represented as uncouth but welcoming and generous. A garage of female mechanics shows good gender representation.
Violence & Scariness
A scene suggests a body bag being thrown into the water. Bullfighting is shown without any injury. A character points a gun to their head as though to kill themselves, but misses. Mention is made of grave digging and people missing, presumed dead. There is some perceived peril when five people in a car chase someone.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The sound of sexual intercourse is heard through a wall. Characters kiss on the lips.
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No offensive language.
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Products & Purchases
The camera focuses on car brands on a few occasions, including Fiat and Citroën.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol fairly regularly, including wine and spirits from a flask. Smoking is referenced but not shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Man in the Hat is a French comedy with English subtitles, with occasional references to sex and one to suicide. Large sections of the film are silent in terms of dialogue, with musical accompaniment setting the tone. It is a slow, gentle movie with very little to offend, though there are some sexual references -- a couple is heard having sex through a wall -- and a character with a gun contemplates suicide. Alcohol is consumed often with meals, and once from a flask. Scenic shots, silent interactions, and surreal moments create a sense of whimsy and charm, which may be lost on younger viewers with a preference for more fast-paced action.
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The Man in the Hat
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What's the Story?
In THE MAN IN THE HAT, a man known simply as The Man in the Hat (Ciarán Hinds), believes he has witnessed a crime and goes on the run across the French countryside in his Fiat 500. With nothing but a photograph of an unknown woman in the passenger seat, he visits new towns, meets interesting people, and enjoys some fine French cuisine -- all the time pursued by five angry men in a Citroën Dyane.
Is It Any Good?
The fact that the title of the movie is the only name by which we know the main character gives some clue as to the level of whimsy at play in this charming French comedy. In The Man in the Hat, co-directors Jean-Paul Davidson and Stephen Warbeck prove a powerful combo. Davidson brings his experience directing travelogues for the likes of Stephen Fry and Michael Palin to the postcard-perfect landscapes and intimate village backdrops, while Warbeck's Oscar-winning (Shakespeare in Love) music carries equal weight in a film with very little dialogue.
Drawing upon traditions of silent and absurdist comedy, the movie is rich with clever touches and unexpected interludes -- a character painting his clothing to hide a hole, a pair of workers whose job it appears to be is to measure anything they see. Hinds is perfectly cast as the hat-wearing protagonist. His expressive face articulating feelings of bewilderment and befuddlement as he makes his way across the country -- in a comically small car -- through a series of moments, interactions, greetings, and goodbyes. The supporting cast are equally captivating. Stephen Dillane gives a particularly memorable performance as The Damp Man, who continuously turns up along the way weighed down by his wet clothes and various levels of melancholy. Light, playful, and heartwarming to the end, this is a cinematic journey well worth the ride.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what role communication played in The Man in the Hat. How did the movie portray feelings and relationships with such little dialogue? How can I use media to help my kid's communication skills?
Discuss the references to sex in the movie. Were they respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
One scene involves a character contemplating suicide. Was this scene sensitively handled? Why is that important?
Discuss the style of comedy used. Did you find it funny? Did the movie remind you of any other comedies you've seen?
If French is not a language you speak, how did you find the subtitles? Were they distracting or did you get used to them quickly? What other international movies have you seen, and how did this one compare?
- In theaters: May 14, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2021
- Cast: Ciaran Hinds, Stephen Dillane, Sahsa Hails
- Directors: John-Paul Davidson, Stephen Warbeck
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Adventures
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Perseverance
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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