Evening Classes is a bit of a surprise; without Jacques Tati’s involvement, the short would almost work more as an examination of his films. With his involvement, Classes certainly has some outstanding moments, but director Ribowski and Tati (who also wrote the short) don’t really have a point.
The film opens with Tati as M. Hulot seemingly bumbling into a classroom, but no–he’s actually the instructor and a good one. He’s teaching an improv or mime class, except in the context of Tati’s films, it’s more like a look inside his process on those other films.
Without a familiarity with Tati’s work (Classes, shot on the same sets as Playtime, ends with a big reference to that film), the short goes on a little too long. Tati’s examples of smoking, tennis and fishing are all phenomenal. The horseback riding and postal worker stuff? Too much.
It’s successful, if problematic.
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