Adapted from a play, Francois Ozon's latest work is a delightful gem of a film. It is a comedy but there is no mistaking the bite beneath the surface. Set in a progressive high school, the film examines the process of creativity.
Germain is a literature teacher. He finds most of his pupils to be mind-numbingly boring and stupid but there is one bright mind in his class. Claude captures Germain's attention with a short essay on his weekend. The assignment was prosaic enough but Claude's story was filled with sly wit and keen observation; he described how he befriended one of his classmates in order to gain access to a home and household he had admired for a long time. Germain is slightly appalled at Claude's behaviour but he cannot deny the allure of his storytelling abilities. Germain begins providing private tutoring lessons to Claude and encourages him to continue to write about his experiences in his classmate's home. Soon, the lines between fact and fiction blur and the story becomes a compulsion for both writer and mentor as they go to greater extremes to keep it going.
The ensemble cast is note perfect. Fabrice Luchini and the versatile Kristin Scott Thomas attack the roles of Germain and his wife with glee. Emmanuelle Seigner and Denis Menochet are drolly unsuspecting as the parents in the household. Relative newcome Ernst Umhauer is fantastic as Claude; coupling precociousness and intelligence with the slyness and naivete of youth, he dazzles us with his sense of mischief.
Ozon has a deft hand. The film is neatly edited with a great sense of pacing and timing for comedic effect. However, this is a film by Francois Ozon and comedy is only one facet of the movie. The film reveals a more thoughtful side as it moves towards its conclusion and discloses the darker side of the imagined intimacy that comes from voyeurism.
In The House
Director: Francois Ozon
Principal Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini, Emmanuelle Seigner, Denis Menochet
Wednesday, September 12th 2012
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 3:45pm
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.