LFF 2012: In the House | Film reviews, news & interviews
LFF 2012: In the House
Ozon’s sharp and scathing comedy depicts an unusual teacher-pupil relationship
Balancing cool calculation with a touch of Potiche’s farce, In the House (Dans la Maison) sees French director François Ozon return to the story-within-a-story structure and enigmatic imposter subject matter of Swimming Pool.
It stars Fabrice Luchini as Mr Germain, a frustrated French teacher, disenchanted by pupil apathy and his school’s new initiatives. His zeal for teaching is re-awakened when a talented pupil, Claude (Ernst Umhauer), starts turning-in intriguing but alarming assignments. These reveal that Claude has conned his way into a classmate’s house, and is observing and manipulating what he considers to be the perfect family - developing a particular fixation on his friend’s beautiful, bored mother Esther (Emmanuelle Seigner). Rather than discouraging him, Germain becomes hooked on the boy’s invasive, faintly sinister narrative, sharing each thrilling development with his art curator wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas).
There’s terrific humour in the nosey, improper fixation of this bourgeois couple, and in the fact that Jeanne’s penchant for obscene exhibits means that she’s known locally as the “woman who owns the porn shop”. Germain lives vicariously through the boy’s snooping and writing talent. He also fails to spot elements of his own life reflected back at him – with Esther’s dissatisfaction mirroring Jeanne’s. Ozon deals deftly in the shifting power in this teacher-pupil dynamic, and deliberately and playfully confuses reality and fiction. The film is presented with his characteristic precision and detachment and it’s played with spirit by Luchini and Scott Thomas in particular. In the House is intriguing, delightfully mischievous and accomplished, though perhaps a little too far removed.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Richard Linklater's life-enhancing epic gets a frills-free DVD release
Charming Disney animation gives way to superhero spectacle
Memories of the Holocaust, and Alfred Hitchcock's attempts to sum up its visual testimony
Charlie Lyne's enjoyable documentary celebrates the teen movie but lacks rigour
Human nature is tested to destruction in Alex Garland's Artificial Intelligence thriller
Chekhovian break-up hits higher-end Bolivian society, strangely compellingly
Period crime drama packs a quietly potent punch
Alain Robbe-Grillet's modernist, sadomasochist cinema games revived
Unenlightening day-in-the-life portrait of French national broadcaster Radio France
Vera Brittain's First World War memoir prettifies the pain
Oscar contender and sleeper success is whiplash-smart
Art-house blaxploitation with a surreal edge is seen in full after four decades