Sunday, May 26, 2013

"In the House": Ozon makes a comic thriller about a precious teenage writer and "domestic spy", all for family

The new comic French thriller from Fraocois Ozon “In the House” (“Dans la maison”) starts by showing its lead character Claude  (new young German actor Ernst Umhauer, who is quite overwhelming in the role) dressing from prep school, and we know from the body shots that he is probably a teen.  Most of the time afterwards, he is in shirt and tie.  The formality seems ironic given the quasi-erotic nature of the character’s presence “in the house” in the movie.
We also see the prep school literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini)  grading papers in front of his wife, who isn’t afraid to be nosey.  Most of the kids can’t write or are dulled by cell phones and pizza.
But not Claude.  Despite coming from a broken home, he is gifted, mannered, and different, and capable of the kind of charisma you see from a character like Will Horton in the soap “Days of our Lives”.  He craves to find out what a real family is life.  So he embarks to tutor another boy in math Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) at home.  He gets into the house, becomes best friends of the boy, and is always around. 
And he writes about all the experiences.  At first, his interesting in auto biographical writing (somewhat like mine) scares the teacher, as inappropriate and risky.  Well, no one else will see it?  (The film never mentions social media, but it could have been set a few decades ago.)  But the teacher becomes obsessed with the experiment – and perhaps the student – as the snooping continues. 
Complications will set in.  For one thing, at mid point, the teacher calls upon the students to write about their best friends.  Rapha, who has already demonstrated a crush on Claude, is humiliated when his [iece is read – he feels verbally undressed, imagined naked (as in the song from “Modern Family”).   But Claude’s own demonstrative heterosexuality can wreck more than one marriage. Kristen Scott Thomas plays Germain’s wife, and she will be appropriately challenged.   
The very end of the film – sad for Germain – has a touch of Hitchcock – like in “Rear Window”.

One thing about the house – it looked rather American.   

Cohen Media Group offers a specific site only on Facebook, here.  The film is based on a play by Juan Mayorga.
I saw the film Sunday afternoon at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington VA, in a smaller auditorium, before a receptive audience.  The projectionist cut off the credits.  

Ozon has an earlier thriller about authorship, “Swimming Pool” , where a British mystery writer (Charlotte Rampling) visits her publisher’s home in France. 

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