My first introduction to Francois Ozon’s work was the excellent comedy, “The New Girlfriend”, after which I was determined to find more of his films. The determination fizzled out, and only now have I got round to watching what was widely regarded as his best, “In The House” (Dans la maison). As is often the case, I question why I waited so long to do so.
This is a dark, funny and extremely clever film that plays out as a thriller, but not in the traditional sense. The story of a boy who is obsessed with a house and those inside it, writes passionately about the days he spends there as his true motives become gradually clear. Encouraged by a teacher who is fed up with those who cannot be taught, this is a man who becomes captivated by the boys words, yet still immensely critical of what he believes is pure fiction. With each installation the boy submits, the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy become blurred, and a morally questionable back and forth takes place, neither of which express any desire to stop.
Great central performances from both Fabrice Luchini as the teacher “Germain” and Ernst Umhauer as literary talent “Claude”, backed by a witty script that leaves you with a permanent grin on your face, it’s a film so perfectly put together that it’s easy to see why so many hold this film in such high regard. It’s a brilliantly playful satire on what being middle class entails, while also taking sophisticated interests like art and literature, and tearing them apart in a barrage of well-worded take-downs.
Moments of discomfort are aplenty in this thriller-comedy, on paper an odd combination of genres, but it’s this lingering unpredictability leading you blindly into the unknown that makes it such an entertaining film. Captivating from start to finish, this is perfect escapism as you lose yourself In The House.