Ozon's open House in San Sebastian
by Boyd van Hoeij
- French director François Ozon premiered his latest film In the House at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
French director François Ozon, who alternates between small arthouse dramas such as The Refuge [+see also:
film profile] and bigger, more mainstream-oriented and star-studded comedies such as 8 Women [+see also:
film profile] and Potiche [+see also:
film profile], finds a winning middle ground in his latest title, In the house [+see also:
The film is a comedy-drama with big stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Fabrice Luchini and big ideas, which include the nature, reality and needs of fiction and the seductive powers of storytelling. After its world premiere in Toronto, the film had its European bow in the competition of the San Sebastian Film Festival.
In the House is loosely adapted from the play The Boy in the Last Row by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga and looks at a secondary school French teacher, Germain (Luchini), who complains to his wife (Scott Thomas) that his students are all lazy and up to no good, until he unearths an interesting essay from one of his students, Claude (newcomer Ernst Umhauer).
The assignment was to write about the student's weekend, though Claude spins a fascinating story about how he used the fact his classmate, Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), wasn't good at mathematics to suggest he help him out in order to get access to Rapha's house and family, which includes his basketball-crazy father (Denis Menochet) and sensual hausfrau mother (Emmanuelle Seigner).
The essay ends with "to be continued" and Germain, though he protests about ethical issues such as privacy, is totally hooked and the devious Claude seems aware of that, providing the teacher with new instalments of the story with each subsequent essay assignment and Germain teaching him about narrative construction and character building.
Along the way, the film starts to blur reality and fiction and it becomes increasingly unsure what's still real and what is only happening in Claude's story, or what Germain's influence on the boy's writing really is. Surface similarities to the director's Swimming Pool are clearly there, though House has a more comedic and mainstream bent, with only very light psycho-sexual contents.
The film will be released in France and Belgium on October 10 and a day later in the Netherlands. It was produced by Mandarin Cinema in association with Mars Films, Canal+, FOZ and France 2 Cinéma. International sales are handled by Wild Bunch Distribution in Paris.
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