In the House
Dans la maison
François Ozon’s latest film is a coolly ironic adaptation of Juan Moyoraga’s play The Boy in the Last Row.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter François Ozon
- Producer Eric Altmeyer, Nicolas Altmeyer, Claudie Ossard
- With Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ernst Umhauer
- France 2012
- 105 mins
- UK distribution Momentum Pictures
François Ozon follows the glorious camp of Potiche with this superbly controlled, coolly ironic adaptation of Juan Mayorga’s play The Boy in the Last Row. High-school literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) lives a beige, repetitive life; his despair at the state of contemporary education has given way to apathy and he is barely conscious of his curator wife’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) boredom. Unexpectedly, he discovers a student in his class whose compelling sense of prose and voyeuristic eye for detail stir his long dormant enthusiasm for his work. The daring and talented Claude (Ernst Umhauer) inveigles his way into the lives of a petit-bourgeois family, developing a particular fascination with the mother (Emmanuelle Seigner), and serialises his encounters in essay form under the increasingly voracious guidance of Germain. As Claude’s incursions become more audacious, the ground imperceptibly shifts, and the borders between reality and fiction become indistinguishable. Both a knowing ode to the art of storytelling and a scathing class critique, In the House sees Ozon return to the territory of Water Drops on Burning Rocks and Swimming Pool, not only in the precision of his form, but also in his flagrant admiration for the disruptive intruder with ambiguous desires.
In the House was inspired by the Spanish play The Boy in the Last Row by Juan Mayorga. I was particularly struck by the teacher-student relationship when I saw the play. We root for both the teacher and the student. Both points of view are presented, by turns. Usually students learn from their teachers, but here, the learning goes both ways. And the back-and-forth between reality and writing lends itself to a playful reflection on storytelling and the imagination. These somewhat theoretical questions are really brought to life in the play. The Germain-Claude relationship represents the essential partnership in any creative endeavour: the editor and the writer, the producer and the director, even the reader and the writer or the audience and the director. When I read the play, I saw a chance to speak indirectly about my work, the cinema, inspiration and its sources, what it is to create, what it is to be an audience.
Born in Paris in 1967, he attended the French film academy La Femis and for a decade was an amazingly prolific short-film director, working in super-8, video, 16mm and 35mm. His short A Summer Dress presciently won him the Léopard de Demain award at Locarno in 1996, and he made his feature debut with the ferocious satire Sitcom in 1998. A truly eclectic and fascinating filmography has followed – including an adaptation of a Fassbinder play in Water Drops on Burning Rocks, the semi-musical 8 Women, the English-language Angel and the class-war comedy Potiche.
1988 Photo de famille [s]; Les Doigts dans le ventre [s]
1990 Mes parents un jour d’été [s]
1991 Une goutte de sang [s]; Peau contre peau (les risques inutiles) [doc s]; Le Trou Madame [doc s]; Deux plus un [s]
1992 Thomas reconstitué (Reconstructed Thomas) [s]
1993 Victor [s]
1994 Une rose entre nous (A Rose Between Us) [s]; Action vérité (Truth or Dare) [s]
1995 Jospin s’éclaire [doc]; La Petite Mort (Little Death) [s]
1996 Une robe d’été (A Summer Dress) [s]; L’homme idéal [s]
1997 Regarde la mer (See the Sea)
1998 Sitcom; Scènes de lit (Bed Scenes) [s]; X2000 [s]
1999 Les Amants criminels (Criminal Lovers)
2000 Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes (Water Drops on Burning Rocks); Sous le sable (Under the Sand)
2002 8 femmes (8 Women)
2003 Swimming Pool
2005 Le Temps qui reste (Time to Leave)
2006 Un lever de rideau (A Curtain Raiser) [s]
2007 Angel; Quand la peur dévore l’âme
2009 Ricky; Le Refuge (Hideaway)
2012 Dans la maison (In the House)
Read the Time Out review.