In the House

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Sep 25, 2013
In the House

François Ozon makes a triumphant, wildly iconoclastic return to form with his latest film, "In the House," which is described in some quarters as a "thriller" and a "mystery." It's neither, really, though it does thrill with a darkly comic, literate script and fine acting; and it does plumb the mysterious connections between fiction and reality, whether those connections take a mathematical form (imaginary numbers) or manifest in a literal manner.

Jaded teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) endures most of his literature students, and barely tolerates the pedagogical reforms that have taken place at the high school where he's long worked. When a smart, strange young student named Claude (Ernst Umhauer) turns in an assignment in which he recounts his half-creepy, half-needy, half-anthropological observations of his friends "ideal family," Germain takes a growing interest. So does his wife Jeanne (Kristen Scott Thomas), from whom he's become remote, by imperceptible degrees.

For a time Claude's real life literary adventures thrill and divert Germain and Jeanne, who view each installment as a fresh chapter in some sort of serialized novel and regard the real people Claude talks about as fictional characters, picking apart their motivations and psyches. But as the story progresses, and catches Germain and Jeanne up in its pages, its ending -- unexpected, and yet inevitable -- draws ever closer.

There are strains of Hitchcock here, and -- closer to the surface -- of Woody Allen, but "In the House" stands apart as its own film, unique and captivating. Even the extras are a little unlike what you may have seen before; the "Making Of" featurette eschews voice over and interviews, and simply shows Ozon rehearsing his cast and arguing with them about art, literature, and the script, which Ozon adapted from a play by Juan Mayorga.

There's a Bloopers reel, a clutch of Deleted Scenes, and footage of the film's premiere at Le Grand Rex, where it screened for an audience of teachers. There's also film of "Costume Fittings" and a Poster Gallery, in addition to the Theatrical Trailer.

Some day, some sharp-eyed American director will turn this into a Hollywood movie. Let's hope he shares Ozon's willingness to play with genre and format, and let's pray he has something approaching Ozon's sense of humor.

Until then (and probably well past), this is a Blu-ray that almost any cinephile is going to want to keep on his shelf, and in viewing rotation. "In the House" is really that good. In fact, it's so good you'll instantly forgive Ozon for the disaster that was "Potiche."

"In the House"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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