F.I.L.M. of the Week (March 5, 2015)

5 03 2015

In the HouseFrançois Ozon made a big splash in 2003 with his film “Swimming Pool,” which follows the exploits of a novelist pulling generously from real life to write her next book.  A decade later, he circles back to the same themes with his adaptation of “In the House.”  It hardly feels like a rerun, however.

Ozon, here, concerns himself with the ethical position of the observer watching actuality being warped into literary fantasy.  This thrilling, dramatic work earns my nod for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week” because of the way it raises fascinating questions about the challenges and conundrums faced by all who write fictional tales.  While Ozon stops short of making the voyeuristic audience feel that moral weight, “In the House” nonetheless excites and enchants with its intellectual interrogations.

The film plays out as a serialized drama refracted through the experience of a teenage boy, the inquisitive student Claude (Ernest Umhauer).  His incisive description of the inner workings and desires of the real, banal middle-class home belonging to his socially awkward classmate Rapha Artole proves tantalizing to Claude’s teacher, washed-up writer Germain Germain (Fabrice Luchini).  Germain wants to develop and hone his pupil’s writing skills, so he begins to tutor him privately in order to discuss his compositions.

But Germain also pushes him to take surprising actions in his dealings with the Artoles to make Claude’s writing more daring in tone and content.  Thus, the always teetering fulcrum between art reflecting life and life reflecting art begins to fluctuate so rapidly that any distinction between the directionality become inpossible to discern.  Germain essentially turns Claude into a narrative Rumpelstiltskin, exploiting the beauty of the mundane for textual gold and personal gain.

“In the House” excellently illuminates the problems of narrativizing life as it plays out as well as how the writing of life ex post facto clouds and ruins the living of it.  Ozon’s smart plotting and direction makes these quandaries not only intriguing to mull over but also truly riveting to watch in action.

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3 responses

8 03 2015
ninvoid99

For me, this is Francois Ozon’s best film to date as I was just impressed by the story and how he was able to blur the idea of fantasy and fiction. Even as he really gets inside the idea of what goes on in the world of writing as I feel like it’s his most fulfilling work so far.

8 03 2015
Marshall

I have yet to see an Ozon I don’t like – granted, I’ve only seen three, I think.

8 03 2015
ninvoid99

I’ve seen them all with the exception of his most recent film and some shorts.

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