on 25 September 2013
This is a strange and unusual film which I greatly enjoyed but also found slightly unsettling. It is marked by some outstanding performances - particularly from Fabrice Luchini and Ernst Umhauer (astonishingly sophisticated performance from a 16 year old!) - also, it goes without saying, Kristin Scott Thomas. Beautifully photographed, well paced, very entertaining.
I am not going to try to summarize the story. I have seen it described as a hilarious comedy - it has some very funny moments but I did not see it that way. Almost a thriller but not really - almost a fantasy but not that either. It is best approached with very little knowledge of what you are about to see which involves shifting realities. I feel a plot summary would significantly reduce your enjoyment!
As so often with Ozon it is one of a kind - and rewarding viewing. I need to see it again and am glad it is now available on DVD.
on 2 August 2013
I really enjoyed this film. Funny and subtle. It's about a school teacher and his wife who becomes obsessed with the literary outpourings of one of his students. The student himself is obsessed by the middle-class family of one of his friends, and so insinuates himself into their home to write about their lives. He is particularly obsessed with the attractive mother. It is about voyeurism and vicariously feeding off other people's lives. This might almost be a description of art, and particularly film and literature.
The film is really a black comedy and it moves at a satisfying pace. There is never a superfluous scene. It moves toward what is the inevitable tragi-comic conclusion with perfect finesse. I have seen François Ozon films before but I was never moved to write a review. It is certainly worth a watch if you like French films and like films which have an artistic flavour but don't take themselves too seriously.
I’ve only seen a handful of French film-maker François Ozon’s more recent films (Potiche, The New Girlfriend), but with this 2012 effort the man strikes me as one of the world’s more interesting writer-directors. Based on a play by Spanish dramatist Juan Mayorga, and with a script by Ozon, In The House is highly ambitious take on themes of academia, art, privacy, class division, censorship, friendship and (perhaps most memorably) the blurring of fact and fiction, delivered by Ozon as a mix of (frequently hilarious) black comedy, mystery, eccentricity and tragedy. If anything, for me at least, the film falters rather on the basis of the scale of its ambition – at times, we just don’t know where it’s going (not necessarily a bad thing, of course) – but it remains a highly intriguing watch, as well as a highly accomplished piece of film-making, with some inventive cinematography (montages, fast motion, etc) by Jerôme Alméras and an intoxicating score by Philippe Rombi.
The film’s set-up is brilliantly done as middle-aged, middle-class couple, Fabrice Luchini’s 'progressive’ teacher Germain Germain and Kristen Scott Thomas’ art gallery manager Jeanne, become 'voyeurs’ to the intrusive antics of the 'fictional world’ of 16-year old pupil to Germain, Ernst Umhauer’s Claude, whose essays create a peeping tom/fantasy world around Claude’s fellow pupil Bastien Ughetto’s Rapha. Ozon gets the hang-ups of the 'bourgeois’ pair just right, overlaying their sense of concern over Claude’s writing (and its potential disruptive effect) with an engaging, dark sense of comedy. The parodying of Jeanne’s 'modern’ art pursuits (constantly mocked by her husband) is, if a little predictable, still very funny. Newcomer Umhauer is excellent as the alternately obsessive, manipulative and vulnerable Claude, about whose motives (peeping tom, sexual awakening, lost soul seeking a family, etc) Ozon keeps us guessing throughout, as is Emmanuelle Seigner as the mother of Rapha, Esther, with whom Claude becomes besotted (well, who wouldn’t, I guess?). Similarly, both Luchini and Scott Thomas are, as ever, reliable, the former particularly good as the 'intellectual’ who lets his passion for art (well, literature), via Claude, lead him astray (I may have detected a 'concluding theme’ around simplicity being preferred over 'sophistication’ when it comes to art).
The skilful way in which Ozon depicts Claude’s ‘dreamworld’ even allows him to get away with, what would otherwise have been, some rather fanciful plotting. And whilst the film’s rather dramatic (and sudden) denouement doesn’t quite convince Ozon’s film remains one that is well worth seeing for its level of ambition alone.
on 17 April 2014
I really enjoyed this film. Really cleverly made. I love the "a suivre..." at the end of each essay. This is the story of a teacher who's pretty dissatisfied with his job as none of his students care about writing or reading and write extremely badly. This is until he stumbles on a piece of writing from Claude.Claude writes extremely well and is extremely cynical about his friend and his family. He says that he loves going to his friend's "normal" house and starts to make fun of the bourgeoisie and middle class parents.
I loved the element of "morally wrong" that the teacher will take a dangerous path to satisfy his curiousity and help his student develop his writing skills.
Of course Claude is a disturbed teenager, and as the story unfolds, a series of event will change the professsor's life forever...A MUST SEE! Also, Kristin Scott Thomas is amazing and her french is perfect!
In The House tells an intriguing tale of a teacher (Fabrice Luchini) and pupil where the latter is a gifted writer, much more so than his frustrated mentor. The boy starts writing a serialised piece of 'non-fiction' involving a friend of his and this friend's family, with whom the writer appears to get very involved ... the friend is also in the same teacher's French class. All this is developed through some individual classes Luchini gives to help bring out the youngster's talent. We quickly get drawn in to the ever more lurid revelations, both funny and titillating, that follow, as do Luchini and his wife, played with customary stylishness by Kristin Scott Thomas at her elegant best. It's a light souffle of a film, not very deep, but which holds you somewhat on the edge of your seat ... As real and imagined become more and more confused, Ozon shows himself once again to be a master of a surreal tone that he last handled with this incisiveness in Swimming Pool. Admirers of Scott Thomas need not hesitate - this is one of her best roles, and Luchini also manages to get right inside the role in a way no one else could, you feel by the end.
on 11 June 2014
The main reason I bought this was Kristin Scott-Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner, cause then I usually are left with some quality
that last. This film is a real masterpiece, and the only drawback is that I don`t speak french, and has to take my eyes away to
read the english subtitles. But I guess this is one of the films I will watch many times, and learn the lines by memory ;- )
There are many good actors in this film, and they deliver the right atmosphere all the time.
While marking a set of mundane 'what I did at the weekend..' essays, French Literature teacher Germain, finds one that is not only promising but intriguing. One of his pupils, Claude, writes about wangling his way into another boy, Rapha's home after becoming obsessed with the latter's seemingly ideal middle class family. Unsure, if it is fact or fantasy, Germain sees potential in the writing and singles Claude out for extra tuition, Claude continues to use his friendship with Rapha and his family as the basis of some voyeuristic episodes, always ending 'to be continued'.
The viewer, like Germain and his wife Jeanne who also reads the essays, are left unsure about the literal truth, as the stories are conveyed through Claude. The endings change according to the different styles Germain encourages him to try. This leads to an interesting low key thriller, not knowing who is playing whom and if any of it is true, whether Claude is simply using the family as material or has something more sinister in mind.
The film is beautifully shot. The underlying humour is dark and critical of both material and intellectual snobbery. The end, with a nod to Hitchcock (you'll know which one) is as Germain hoped for Claude's writing, unexpected, but the only one that fits.