In the House (Dans la Maison)
Wonderful French director François Ozon returns to stunning form with In the House, a sly, funny and oddly scary movie that is slightly reminiscent of the filmmaker’s earlier masterpiece Swimming Pool. Both films essay the power of the written word, our fascination with the lives of strangers and the dangers of allowing yourself to get pulled too deeply into someone else’s world.
However, In the House does it in a much more light-hearted way – or so it appears on the surface. In the House feels almost like a comedy, and I suppose in most ways it is. Below the surface, though, there are some very serious issues being taken on. The fact that the film is funny and light on its feet does not undo its dark look at social mores.
The humor is sometimes absurd, but it is firmly based on human nature. It’s funny because it is has a basis in realism, but it’s also a little disconcerting for just the same reason.
Fabrice Luchini does a pitch-perfect job as a bored writing teacher who hates his job, hates his students and to a certain extent hates his life. He has long since lost interest in reading student papers. That changes when a young student (Ernst Umhauer) starts writing a serialized series of papers about the life of another student’s family.