Monday, 15 April 2013

In the House.

Husband and wife Jeanne and Germain.
There are two things that are fairly certain. Firstly that Francois Ozon always makes interesting and challenging movies. Films like Under the Sand (2000) 8 Women (2002), Swimming Pool (2003), 5x2 (2004), Time To Leave (2005) and Potiche (2010). Secondly Kristin Scott Thomas has rarely made a bad French language film, interchanging between the posh English stereotypical roles in which she seems to be cast while working in Britain or America. In fact her career goes from strength to strength even as the 'older women', she turned 50 in 2010, with France offering her roles that are constantly giving her the opportunity to stretch her impeccable skills as an actress. Films like I've Loved You So Long (2008) Leaving (2009), Sarah’s Key (2011), In Your Hands (2010) and the recent The Woman in the Fifth (2012).

Claude develops his obsession with Esther.....
....via tuition from Germain.
What do you get when you mix these two formidable movie talents together? A witty, and somewhat underlyingly sinister thriller that brings to mind the invasion of one’s private space seen in Pasolini's Theorem (1968) and perhaps even Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997). In the House (2012) is a film where your never quite sure if what you see is fact or fiction! Based on a Spanish play The Boy in the Last Row by Juan Mayorga, it opens with French literature teacher and failed writer, Germain (veteran actor Fabrice Luchini last seen as Catherine Deneuve’s husband in Ozon’s Potiche) giving his High School students an essay to write about their activities at the weekend. While marking the normal boring dross he comes across a piece of work that catches his eye composed by the 16 year old, quietly clever but puzzling, Claude Garcia (played by new comer Ernst Umhauer) it tells about his weekend in the house of a fellow student where under the guise of assisting him with ‘math’s’ he attempts to integrate with Rapha’s family mainly we suspect because he has developed an infatuation with his friends beautiful but bored mother Esther (actress, singer and the latest Mrs. Polanski, Emmanuelle Seigner). Germain encourages Claude to continue with his visits to the house and encourages him to go to even further lengths in the hope that it will improve his writing and produce a grand piece of text. The childless Germain is married to Jeanne (Scott Thomas) who runs an art gallery called Minotaur’s Labyrinth on behalf of two identical twins, which includes some strangely bizarre and sexually explicit objects including blow up dolls adorned with masks of political tyrants and dictators!
Will Jeanne fall for the charms of the budding young writer? 
A film about story telling where ‘life and literature become indistinguishable’.[1] A French middle class satire that deals with voyeurism and sexual desires of both sexes giving the viewer an incite into repressed bourgeois family life. Again we have a French film that outclasses many English language movies from both sides of the Atlantic with its adult story and some first rate acting from all concerned, but I most give a special mention to Ernst Umhauer whose role as the budding young writer is intoxicating. Not to be missed.

[1] Philip French The Observer 

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