Prolific and oft-mischievous French filmmaker François Ozon’s latest play in the swimming pool of the mind boasts fine portraits of middle-age petulance from Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner. While the plot of “In the House” follows the transgressions of sixteen-year-old Claude (Ernst Umhauer), writing essays about a classmate’s family for the amusement of his teacher (Luchini) that grow increasingly perverse, it’s the performances that tickle. Playing a gallery owner selling vulgar junk akin to Gilbert & George knockoffs, Scott Thomas’ mix of gravity and impatience suits her just swell, and Luchini embodies the teacher tantalized by both the gifts and daring of a gifted student. (“Are you writing every detail or are you exaggerating for effect?” he asks of his young charge.) Seigner, playing the mother of his schoolmate, is all detached boredom underneath magazine-chic bangs. Luchini and Umhauer’s strange complicity grows, to sly and often comic ends. The teacher eventually finds himself within his student’s narrative—“What are we doing in the story?”—which nestles nicely into “In The House”’s shape of a simple Woody Allen “Shouts & Murmurs” riff on Pasolini’s “Theorem” while remaining oh-so-Ozon. 105m. (Ray Pride)
“In The House” opens Friday at Landmark Century. The U. S. trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.