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Often funny, sometimes disturbing and sensual, the movie can be enjoyed at face value, but the heart of the movie lies underneath that appealing veneer, it's about creation and the required necessity to live your life fully to feed it. The budding writer enters the lives of a family, the same way a writer should embrace life itself, with a healthy dose of curiosity and nerve, precisely what his teacher is lacking. Add to that a fascinating and intricate observation of the blurring of lines separating reality from fiction in the feverish midst of artistic creation. Deep stuff, but all wrapped up in a neat bundle, Ozon making sure to leave almost no one on the side of the road, so to speak. So in conclusion it's smart and yet playful, intellectual but never pretentious. Well, in other words, it's a very good movie about potentially boring subjects. Highly recommended in those times of idiocracy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Francois Ozon's delightful, delicious new comedy "In the House" is a
wonderfully clever and very funny treatise on the written word
delivered in very cinematic terms, on the thin line between fact and
fiction, truth and lies and the individual's need for attention.
The central characters are two misplaced males destined, perhaps, to be together and who find each other almost by accident. Germain is a middle-aged (and bitterly cynical) schoolteacher, (a terrific Fabrice Luchini), who one day finds that an essay handed in by handsome young loner student Claude, (Ernst Umhauer, excellent), has all the promise of a blossoming literary talent simply because it deals, in a well-written way, of course, in 'truths', (it describes Claude's infatuation with a fellow student and his family and what might go on 'dans la maison' in which they live), and the essay ends 'to be continued'.
He shows the essay to his wife, (a lovely performance from Kristin Scott Thomas), and, on the one hand, egged on by her and, on the other, despite her misgivings he takes Claude under his wing, so to speak, encouraging him to produce more 'to be continued' episodes on what goes on behind the walls of his friend's family home. As someone says, it can only end badly.
The brilliance of Ozon's conceit is that what we see and what we hear aren't always the same. Sometimes if Germain thinks 'a factual' description of events is not worthy of his talents, Claude will change it in the next scene and as Claude's 'literary career' progresses some of the things he writes has no basis in fact whatsoever so that we, too, are left wondering what's real and what isn't.
It is, of course, a hugely sophisticated comedy where a subplot involving Germain's wife's preoccupation with the art gallery she runs is used to counter-balance Germain's increasing preoccupation with Claude, a preoccupation his wife thinks may even have a sexual basis. Without giving anything away, the film itself ends with the words 'to be continued'; if only ...
For his thirteenth feature film, French New Wave director Francois Ozon
has outdone all acclaim given to his 2002 remake of "8 Women" with a
mischievous and dysfunctional tale, of what can be perceived as
A black comedy conflated with so much grandeur from literary greats to post-modern poioumena, you cannot help but wave the white flag and just go along in service of jest and sheer curiosity.
Adapted from a brilliant play written by Juan Mayorgo, this film is a meta-narrative centered on Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer) -- a sixteen year old loner who intrudes upon the home life of fellow student Rapha Jr., and writes about it. What begins as a one-off weekend assignment for literature class, escalates with great passion and frequency when Claude's teacher, Germaine (Fabrice Luchini) detects flashes of talent and decides to groom the teenager.
Here, Ozon proposes a three-fold narrative weaving through the surface of three realities -- Germaine's growing obsession with Claude's story imitates the viewers' relationship with Ozon's film (and perhaps soap opera addiction), and Claude as a self-conscious narrator of the events occurring inside Rapha's house.
When the film begins, Claude is unhappy with a lonely life and clearly needs to distract himself with wholesome family warmth. Having witnessed Rapha's close relationship with parents Rapha Sr. and Esther at the school gate, strikes a friendship with the boy when semester begins. Establishing himself as a math tutor and study mate, Claude quickly wins their affection and trust. Thrilled by this opportunity to experience life with a sense of belonging, yet predisposed to primitive urge, Claude's desire swells into furtive yearning for Esther. And naturally, things get complicated.
As Germaine's involvement with Claude's writing departs from passive reader, to that of a story-telling coach superimposing rules of dramatic structure, it occurs to the viewer that he may very well be a shaping hand in the outcome of this voyeuristic experiment.
Of course, the fabrics of fiction and reality overlap but they do not confuse -- the satirical logic unfolds in ways that are thought- provoking, humorous and downright captivating.
There are certainly many meanings underneath the veil of comedy of this movie. Indeed, defining "Dans la maison" a comedy would be reductive, in the same way as thriller sounds out of tune. And it's really difficult to assign a precise category to it. It's a multifaceted movie, showing different levels of interpretation. From the point of view of the teacher, it's a subtle reflection of a middle aged failed man, who has to come to terms with his failure as a writer, and his incapability to inspire enthusiasm in class of bored students. From the point of view of the wives, it's a refined portrait of middle aged unsatisfied women, and their need to find any kind of escape or consolation. But above all, the movie offers a lucid and intelligent gaze on people's voyeuristic curiosity, on how much we are ready to do in order to see what happens behind closed doors and walls, and here the pair teacher-student works perfectly, and develops through the quick-paced writing of a story where the boundaries between reality and fiction become more and more faded, thus making it intriguing and engrossing. On this aspect, the movie is also a reflection on the process itself of artistic creation, which can seduce the reader or the viewer with an incredible power of attraction. A movie which certainly offers a perfect balance between suspense and entertainment, supported by a talented young and mature cast, involving the viewer till the utmost, and moving us to an unpredictable and gripping finale.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie works for several reasons, most of all because of the script. Germain (Fabrice Luchini) is a French lit teacher married to Jeanne (Kristen Scott Thomas), who runs a modern art gallery without much success; she insists on showing conceptual art that no one understands, or in fact that everyone understands too well as pretentious claptrap. Germain, disgusted by his students' plebeian efforts at writing, at first comes across as a kind of aesthetic purist who sees literature as occupying some sort of moral high ground; we are gently pushed to this conclusion because we can see he is uncomfortable about telling his wife the truth about her gallery, that merely slapping a picture of Hitler on a blow-up doll is not a real indictment of the tyranny of gender (or the gendering of tyranny it works either way, and you just know that somewhere some art student has come up with the same idea and someone like Camille Paglia has praised it). Amidst the dross, he is surprised to find a short essay by one of his students (Claude) that captivates him. In crisp simple prose, Claude describes his fascination with the house and family of schoolmate Rapha and how, as a math tutor to help his nice but thick petty-bourgeois friend (tellingly, he cannot understand "imaginary numbers"), he manages to infiltrate Rapha's house and capture the "scent of a middle class woman", Rapha's mother convincingly played by Emmanuelle Seigner. He ends his vivid account with a "to be continued" (à suivre, in French, whose terseness is a bit more urgent than the English version). Germain starts talking to Claude, who until then was an otherwise unremarkable student. He begins tutoring him and encouraging him to write, although he maintains a superior attitude about the relationship (more or less: "it would appear you have some small talent"). Here is where it gets interesting. Germain becomes so entranced by Claude's treatment of his friend's ultra-conventional and boring middle class family that he begins to suggest which details to emphasise in his accounts. In other words, he starts suggesting plot lines to heighten the narrative drama, which Claude more or less puts into play by manipulating the family; eventually, the division between fantasy and reality is broached. It seems at first the film will insist on being yet another highbrow indictment of middle class banality young Claude is smarter and better educated than anyone in the Rapha household; even Mommy Rapha's obsession with House Beautiful style decoration is belied by her very banal results. But there's a twist: amidst the semi-snide comments it becomes increasingly obvious that Claude and Germain have other agendas than merely exploring the upper reaches of high art by diving into the world of the petty bourgeois Raphas. Manipulating the Raphas becomes a power game, in which Germain can flatter his ego that was flattened by his lack of literary talent (we discover he is a failed novelist), and Claude can finally feel something because he comes from a broken home with a paralysed (!) father and a mother who abandoned the family when Claude was young (we get hints later that it was to seek love). At this point, nearly everyone is tainted and morally ambiguous: Germain's wife's gallery fails because she insists on showing highbrow conceptual art that no one buys despite warnings from the building owners (a deus ex machina represented by "twins"), but she leaves him when she realises Germain is no more than an emotional voyeur who can only live through Claude's manipulation of the innocent Raphas. Germain gets fired because he stole a math test so Claude could get brownie points with the thick Rapha junior; Claude's alleged talent is revealed to be no more than a fascination with the seedy; at the end, he seems as homeless as the by-now fired Germain. When the Raphas get their act together to take advantage of a deal in China, they unite: Mommy rejects Claude's advances and realises he's just a boy with a boy's childish destructive streak; Daddy grows a pair, stops whining about his richer and more successful partner, and launches his own business; even Rapha junior, thick headed and apparently innocent and naïve, finally realises that Claude is really more of an emotional parasite than a friend and beats him up for making a pass at his mother. In the end, the boring and conventional Raphas are vindicated, and the intellectual and artistic highbrows (Claude, Germain and his wife) are ruined. This is a script-driven film; everything is narrated, and the actors are illustrating scenes that Claude has written at the urging of his mentor and fellow emotional cripple Germain. As such, it could have been slow but the pace is quite racy; director François Ozon not only uses the "to be followed" to keep up interest, he gives a little wink to the audience when he overuses it with several hypothetical scenes are played out to get a resolution. All in all, a highly successful film adaptation of a novel, with fine actors, pacing and dialogue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know François Ozon's films very well. I only know that he makes
rather strange, weird and unusual movies. This one is not an exception.
This story of a high school french teacher who has to deal with one of
his students is awesome, very intriguing. The teen in question appears
to be very smart, very intelligent. And far more than that.
This film is actually a sort of thriller which looks like Hitchcock's features. You may think of REAR WINDOW, for instance. The characters are well described. And when you know that François Ozon - the director - is homosexual, you understand the exquisite taste he probably had to make such a picture, with such a sensibility.
Unfortunately, I did not get everything in this little masterpiece. I should watch it twice. And it is not the kind of films I am used to see.
Yes, a very brilliant and intelligent movie. A must see.
This is a very interesting film taking both the point of view of a sixteen year old school boy and that of a middle aged teacher, with you dear viewer, playing yet another role. Ah ha, so, what we start with is a perhaps knowingly voyeuristic homework task set by the bored literacy tutor. Then we have the youth delivering precisely the kind of inflammatory story that reignites the tutor's interest. It's a dangerous game they both play - almost as if the boy were repeating the tutor's own youth with his post hoc adult knowledge. The innocents in this tale are ignored - or rather, their real stories are overlooked by both boy writer and his tutor whilst they play their silly game. The tutor's wife sees through the whole charade but then even her story is corrupted by inclusion in the boy's story-making. You, the viewer, need to pick carefully through the evidence you are presented. Do you want the boy to succeed? Do you want to encourage the teacher? Shame on you! You've gone down a garden path you should never have entered! Brilliant!
The story is based on the play 'The boy in the last row' and a well
crafted French drama centers between teacher and student relationship.
The story begins like a serious drama, when character developments reach at a certain stage the peculiar way of story telling starts to dig deeper into the existing characters which puts us to curiosity about the next scenes. This was kinda unusual theme like 'Stranger than fiction' and 'Ruby sparks'. The story has the power to control over the audience, which sometime drags between reality and fiction as its layers and sub-plots. You can't just judge the story especially the end but you have to experience yourself by watching it till end. The twist was really a nice one, it made the movie completely. I liked the scene at the end when they both sit on a chair and looks at a small flats from outside and say their own version stories.
The movie was suspenseful but comedy, especially when the character Germain pop-out as a narrator or guidance during the story flow of a student and his affair. The actual story of the movie was a teacher finds out one of his student's caliber in writing. So he offers him guidance to improve his talent which later the student submits a series of essay papers. When the story written by his student brings complication to around them there is no other way to solve it. Before to giving up on it is reached at its highest point to blow on everything out.
As the story was loosely based on the house, the title was perfect. The unique way of story telling and the interesting characters made the movie rich and spicy. One of a best French drama of the year, in fact very clever, must appreciate the writer Juan Mayorga and the director Ozon. Definitely not to be missed suppose you are a movie fanatic.
Francois Ozon is the director of this provocative and unusual film that takes the viewer inside the minds of the characters. It is not a traditional movie with a beginning and an end but a study of a period in the lives of different people. In this movie, a high school student named Claude catches the attention of his teacher named Germain, through an essay that explores the family of another student, named Raffa. Claude has begun to tutor Raffa in mathematics. At first the teacher, as the student's mentor, is hesitant about the breach of privacy with this series of essays but succumbs to the the temptation to become a voyeur. Each essay ends with the notation...To Be Continued. Both student and teacher are seen as outsiders in their own worlds and are strangely attracted to the family. The student gently mocks the family he is observing as dull and middle class. The teacher can understand this estrangement from their world because Claude is from a different world and the teacher himself is something of an outsider in his own world. He encourages the boy to continue his writing because he feels the boy has potential as a writer. As the movie goes along, we see the family of Raffa behaving as many other families pursuing money and status. The boy and his father are both named Raffa so they become the Raffas (plural). The student has a romantic interest in the mother, who seems to be the real reason he wants to explore the home. The desire for sexual encounters is present throughout the movie and seems to come out in a few surprising and light hearted episodes. We also see how Raffa and Claude interact with their teacher and the other students and their own families. The wives of Germain the teacher and Raffa Sr. are also interesting with one a traditional woman handling the domestic lives of the two Raffas. Meanwhile, Germain's wife manages an art gallery for two wealthy sisters, who she is trying to keep happy by making the gallery profitable. The movie is an interesting view of modern angst with the pressures to conform competing with the desire to be independent and on occasion, straying from the accepted standards. All in all, it is a provocative look at the different lives of people who interact and occasionally come into conflict. At the end, we see the message: to be continued.
Francois Ozon's latest film is almost like an irresistible novel which
you never wanna put down. The different ways in which he develops the
characters is quite fascinating to watch.
Germain is a bored French professor who finds most of his students uninteresting or untalented. Then he becomes infatuated with a student's (Claude) essays, which are about a friend's family's life to which Claude has got a way into. Both their infatuations and fascinations make them take interesting actions which lead to almost disastrous consequences.
The final scene makes you wonder whether you too, like Germain, get the same voyeuristic pleasure watching others' intimate lives unfold in front you.
Ozon's movies have some some sort of charm which always keep you hooked till the end. I remember enjoying his last movie, Potiche; but unlike his last movie, this one is quite thought-provoking and gives various dimensions to character-development.
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