Sun 3 Mar 2013
Dans la maison (In the House) directed by Francois Ozon is one of the the most surprising films i have seen lately. Adaptation of a play, the screen is so smart that my major question is how is it that Woody Allen did not write it first? or maybe he wrote it under disguise?
It is really such an Allen-esque story, which mingles real life and imagination, the writer as a creator of life, and life as a creator of literature. It even has a thread about relations of adults and underage and even if it loses a little bit of steam by the end, talking so much about a good ending for the story that it forgets to create a real good and non-conventional one, it is still one of the smartest and most original scripts I have watched lately brought in screen. The hero is a professor of literature Germain (Fabrice Luchini), smart enough to abhor the re-introduction of uniforms in high school, whose literary ambitions were not fulfilled and who finds a goal (and a change in the routine) in pygmalionizing one of his pupils Claude (Ernst Umhauer) in the ways of literature. As it happens Clude’s subjects are his friend and colleague Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), his house which is the middle class dream for a poor kid from the peripheries, and his family or especially his mother (Emmanuelle Seigner) who becomes the object of his teenage dreams and guilty desires. As the story develops, the house becomes the stage of the action, reality inspires fiction at first just to make room for literary fiction becoming reality, the intervention of the teacher becomes much more than correction of grammar or style, it starts to be correction of destinies. All in a fluent and well paced style for most of the time.
I liked the acting of Fabrice Luchini, well supported by other fine actors as the two charming Kristin Scott Thomas (as his wife, co-reader of Rapha’s essays and supporting character playing eventually a surprising role in the story) and Emmanuelle Seigner. All of them act solidly, their problems are credible, and we can feel the atmosphere and the torments of the middle class in the French province. The two teenager roles are played with the natural touch and expected freshness by Ernst Umhauer and Bastien Ughetto (the latest is very promising, may he have luck in getting distributed in roles that fit his talent and his face!). Overall it’s a smart and funny movie, worth seeing for many reasons.