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 7,000 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?
This heartfelt Palestinian drama is a poetic look at one kid’s journey of displacement
Jenny Slate stars in a frank, wry study of female arrested development
Jon Hamm makes his bid for movie stardom in a semi-winning baseball drama
Brendan Gleeson stars in this twee and trite Canadian comedy from Don McKellar
A raw take on Australia in potent outback crime drama
Frank Miller's 3D return to the world of Basin City proves a grotty and flat experience
Fritz Lang's lunar epic shines in a gleaming new print
As filmmaker and man, Attenborough had a tireless energy for useful work
Film about a lovesick teenage musical prodigy has a decidedly tin ear
Scarlett Johansson as a kickass brainiac is Luc Besson's latest superheroine fantasy
High theatricality and countyside capers in winning French comedy treat
Weather-related disaster movie loses its script to the elements