In the House
In the HouseOriginal Title: Dans la maison
Director: François Ozon
France | French
Subtitles: Arabic and English
François Ozon demonstrates once again both his versatility as a director and his ability to tease ominous overtones out of the most mundane situations in this quietly compelling thriller, adapted from Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga’s The Boy in the Last Row
It’s the beginning of a new school year. We meet Germain (Fabrice Luchini), a disillusioned teacher tasked with motivating his teenage wards to express themselves in writing. He despairs
at both their lack of insight and the dire state of the education system. His wife, Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas), listens to his complaints, but she is busy with her own problems:
the twins that fund her gallery are threatening to close her down if she doesn’t show more commercial art.
One student does excite Germain’s interest: Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer). The judgmental but intriguing tone of his essay about visiting the home of a classmate disturbs and fascinates him. Soon he is regularly coaching his star pupil. Meanwhile, Claude is insinuating his way into the family life of his affable friend and, via his writing, reports the results to Germain, whose Pygmalion complex starts to spin out of control. Claude’s influence on his friend’s family starts to tear them apart – but is it really happening or is just Claude testing his newly acquired
literary skills? Reality, fiction, desire and frustration blur while the slow unraveling of apparently happy relationships seeds a deep sense of unease. A brief glimpse into the home life of our teenage Svengali offers no easy answers to his motives, instead raising tantalising possibilities that stay with you after the credits roll.
– Robyn Evans