Wednesday, May 08, 2013
In the House (2012 film)
Based on the play The Boy in the Last Row by Juan Mayorga, Dans la maison (In the House) is the story about a 16-year old student whose visits to a house of another student has him creating story that intrigues his teacher as he encourages him to continue further as it leads to troubling consequences. Written for the screen and directed by Francois Ozon, the film is a look into the world of fantasy and reality as a teacher’s encouragement for his student to venture more would lead to some very surprising results. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, and Emmanuelle Seigner. Dans la maison is an incredibly rich and mesmerizing film from Francois Ozon.
The art of writing requires the writer to go deep into a world and see something as if they’re watching something happening in front of them and thinking that else is happening around them. The film is about the art of writing as it involves a jaded literature teacher and his 16-year old student as the latter writes an assignment about his weekend that intrigues the teacher who believes the student has a gift for writing. The boy would make more visit to his friend’s home where he becomes an acquaintance to the family while the teacher encourages him to get more into deep with the story where the results would have some serious consequences for those involved. It’s all part of a world in which a teacher who tries to guide his pupil to discover his talents even further yet the idea of reality and fiction eventually blurs.
Francois Ozon’s screenplay explores this conflict into the world of reality and fiction as there’s these two individuals who definitely seem like there’s nothing for them. For the teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini), he feels like he has nothing to prove as a teacher as his students are just kids who don’t really seem to care about literature until someone actually writes the assignment in the form of a gifted 16-year old student in Claude (Ernst Umhauer). Claude writes about spending his time at the home of his classmate Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) to help with him with math as Claude is intrigued by Rapha’s father (Denis Menochet) and mother Esther (Emmanuelle Seigner). Germain’s wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) would also read Claude’s stories as she is also intrigued as it gives her some distraction from her failing art gallery in a subplot for the film.
Once the story progresses where Germain becomes a character of Claude’s story as he would pop up in the story to help Claude with what to do next. Things become much more complicated as Jeanne invites Rapha’s parents to her gallery while Germain would get an uneasy confrontation from Rapha’s father over an article Rapha wrote in school. Eventually, the idea of reality and fiction becomes confusing and troubling as it progresses to the point where Claude starts to believe things are really happening though it begs the question about fiction and reality. Even as Claude and Germain try to figure out how to end things where Germain thinks he’s created a monster while Claude becomes confused about everything he’s experienced in the home of this quaint yet loving family as they’re going through some troubles of their own.
Ozon’s direction is very entrancing for the way he explores the world of French high school life where students are more concerned with other things than education while teachers are just trying to get through the day. While some of Ozon’s compositions are simple in terms of its framing with some moments that are just hypnotic. The way he infuses the idea of reality and fiction has some moments of humor but also is quite dramatic where Germain is commenting on what Claude is doing and the dramatic impact it will play into the story. Notably as it plays to some tension as it features scenes of Rapha’s father dealing with his own issues at work as well as Claude’s growing attraction towards Esther.
Things do become much more provocative as the film progresses though it’s done with some restraint where Germain starts to imagine that something dreadful might’ve happened. There is an element of suspense in the story once the story that Claude is writing does go into dark places as Germain becomes more involved in guiding Claude to go more out there with his writing by giving him books and such. Even as the drama and suspense intensify in the third act where Claude is trying to find a resolution to end his story where things do become chaotic though it was expected due to Germain’s involvement. Overall, Ozon crafts a very rich and exhilarating film about the art of writing and the consequences from one man’s encouragement.
Cinematographer Jerome Almeras does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s mostly straightforward and colorful with some low-key lighting schemes for some of the nighttime interior scenes. Editor Laure Gradette does fantastic work with the editing that includes a stylized opening credits sequence of a day in life in school along with some very methodical cuts to build up the suspense. Art director Pascal Leguellec does wonderful work with the art direction from the look of Jeanne’s gallery to the quaint home of Rapha’s family
Costume designer Pascaline Chavanne does nice work with the clothes as it‘s mostly casual with some stylish look in the school uniforms and the clothes that Jeanne and Esther wear. Visual effects supervisor Mikael Tanguy does terrific work with the minimal visual effects look for Jeanne‘s twin bosses. Sound editor Benoit Gargonne does some superb work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of the scenes in school to the more intimate moments at Rapha‘s home. The film’s music by Philippe Rombi is brilliant as it is filled with lush orchestral arrangements and somber piano pieces to play up some of its drama and suspense.
The casting by Sarah Teper is amazing as it features some notable small roles from Yolande Moreau as twin owners of Jeanne’s art gallery and Jean-Francois Balmer as Germaine’s superior. Denis Menochet is excellent as Rapha’s father who is dealing with his own issues at work while Bastien Ughetto is terrific as Rapha who befriends Claude as he becomes confused by his feelings while being confused by Germain’s concern towards him. Emmanuelle Seigner is wonderful as Rapha’s mother Esther who is wary about Claude at first only to realize that he pays some attention to her while dealing with the issue she’s having with her husband. Ernst Umhauer is brilliant as Claude as a man with a sense of imagination and a gift for writing as he becomes more invested in his visits to Rapha’s family as he starts to lose sight of himself.
Kristin Scott Thomas is superb as Germain’s wife Jeanne who is dealing with her own issues as she’s intrigued by Claude’s writings as she gives out her own opinions that would prove to be fruitful in the writing process. Finally, there’s Fabrice Luchini in a marvelous performance as Germain as a jaded teacher who is amazed by Claude’s writing as he encourages him to write better only for things to go out of control as Luchini brings a lot of dramatic weight as well as some humor in his performance.
Dans la maison is an outstanding film from Francois Ozon. Thanks to a captivating theme on the art of writing as well as top-notch performances from Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Ernst Umhauer. It’s a film that is definitely engaging for the way things can become real even if it’s fiction as it explores some of the ideas of what writing is and what it can be. Overall, Dans la maison is a tremendous achievement from Francois Ozon.
Francois Ozon Films: See the Sea - Sitcom - Criminal Lovers - Water Drops on Burning Rocks - Under the Sand - 8 Women - Swimming Pool - 5x2 - Time to Leave - Angel (2007 film) - Ricky - Le Refuge - Potiche - Jeune & Jolie - (The New Girlfriend) - The Auteurs #33: Francois Ozon
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