Dans la maison
In the House
Directed by François Ozon
Originally published on Letterboxd.
As self-reflexive satire, this is a little too easy and occasionally jejune for me to wholly recommend it, but it’s also more intelligent and critical than an empty, big-budget, faux avant-garde piece of self-infatuation like Birdman. (No, I will not let it go.)
The leads are all pretty good, particularly Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas (!), and Ernst Umhauer [Instagram]. The latter plays a manipulative, economically disadvantaged student who writes in first-person about his envy and desire for an upper-class life, which is personified by a quotidian family whom he gets involved with, fucks with and fucks around with. (Pasolini’s Teorema is the obvious antecedent here.) The young student also creates and recreates them on paper, and maybe sometimes in real life. The film’s conceits about this ambiguity constitute its primary pleasures.
Luchini plays the bitter teacher/writer who mentors and falls in love with the student’s “talent,” his self-involvement, and his lack of empathy. Their relationship is classically if ironically Platonic and the plot and its self-conscious stunts are as a result all too familiar.
Joachim Lafosse’s Élève libre [Amazon affiliate link] made 4 years before Ozon’s glossy adaptation of Juan Mayorga’s play [YouTube], is riskier filmmaking, both at the level of content and of style.
Although I wasn’t bored and I laughed a bit, there’s not much surprising about Dans la maison, particularly for anyone who’s read any of the literary works this film periodically over-alludes to.