Thursday, May 02, 2013
Written and directed by Francois Ozon, Sitcom is the story about a once-revered family who starts to free-fall into a state of decadence following the purchase of a small white rat. The film is a satire into the world of families with references to American sitcoms as well as adding an element of surrealism to the film. Starring Evelyne Dandry, Francois Marthouret, Marina de Van, Adrien de Van, and Stephane Rideau. Sitcom is a wild and zany black comedy from Francois Ozon.
Change is something that can threaten the livelihood of a family, especially one that is rich and live the life of a family that is quite normal. The premise of this film is about a man named Jean (Francois Marthouret) who brings home a lab rat as a gift for his family much to the chagrin of his wife Helen (Evelyne Dandry) who is afraid of rats. Immediately, things start to happen as members of the families behave in a strange manner while it would also affect the lives of those close to the family. Things progress into something much stranger where Jean is oblivious to what is happening until he has an encounter with the lab rat he had given his family.
Francois Ozon’s screenplay is a bit of a satire of sorts in which a family’s life comes undone by this new arrival where the nerdy son Nicolas (Adrien de Van) becomes an extroverted gay man while the very upbeat daughter Sophie (Marina de Van) becomes obsessed with death and sadomasochism following a suicide attempt. Though the film starts out at the end where something gruesome happens, the film then goes back to see what led to this event where everything went wrong as it relates to this little lab rat. Due to the encounters with this little lab rat, members of this very normal rich family descend into a world of decadence where all sorts of things happening that just pushes the limits of what is decent in the world. Still, Ozon finds ways to create something that doesn’t play to convention as well as some twist and turns to unveil things that play into the changes of this family.
Ozon’s direction is quite stylish in not just some of the compositions he creates but also the way he plays out some of the idea of a family coming undone. A lot of it is presented with this mix of black comedy where a lot of things are off and zany. At the same time, there’s an absurdity to the comedy where it involves family members doing strange things including orgies and sadomasochist games. Ozon isn’t afraid to even do things that can be very disgusting but let it play out naturally as if there aren’t any rules as far as bad taste is concerned. Overall, Ozon creates a very off-the-wall yet entertaining film about the decline of a normal family.
Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from some of the look of the interiors in the house the characters live in to the some of the lighting schemes set at night along with a beautiful shot of the family in a swimming pool. Editor Dominique Petrot does nice work with the editing as it plays to an element of style that captures the energy of the humor as well as the intensity of some of the drama. Production designer Angelique Puron does wonderful work with the look of the house the characters live in that includes the beach painting wall in Nicolas’ room and the strange pictures that Sophie has in her room. Costume designer Herve Poeydemenge does terrific work with the costumes to play up the development of the characters as some of them become more outlandish as the film progresses.
Sound editor Benoit Hillebrant does superb work with the sound to capture some of chilling moments of the film as well as some wilder moments in the humorous scenes. The film’s music by Eric Neveux is quite good for some of the darker moments that is played out in the film such as the characters’ encounter with the rat while the rest of the music consists largely of classical pieces by Gustav Mahler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Frederic Chopin as well as a dance-pop song in Corona’s The Rhythm of the Night.
The film’s cast is brilliant as it features some notable small performances from Jean Douchet as a family shrink, Jule-Emmanuel Eyoum Deido as the maid’s husband Abdu whose encounter with rat has him do strange things, Lucia Sanchez as the family maid Maria who becomes more outlandish with her hairdos, and Stephane Rideau as Sophie’s boyfriend David who becomes saddened by Sophie’s dark attitude. Adrien de Van and Marina de Van are terrific in their respective roles as siblings Nicolas and Sophie as they go into many changes with Adrien becoming more out while Marina is more dramatic. Francois Marthouret is excellent as Jean as a man who is oblivious to the changes until he’s confronted by his family about doing into therapy where he would have his own encounter with the rat. Finally, there’s Evelyne Dandry in a wonderful performance as Helen as a woman who is shocked by these changes only for her encounter with the rat to make a big change in her own behavior.
Sitcom is a strange yet off-the-wall black comedy from Francois Ozon. Featuring a great cast as well as very provocative themes about the idea of family, it is a film that definitely pushes the ideas of what is considered to be bad taste. Even as it is one of Ozon’s most outlandish films during an early period of his career in the late 90s. In the end, Sitcom is a fucked-up yet enjoyable film from Francois Ozon.
Francois Ozon Films: See the Sea - Criminal Lovers - Water Drops on Burning Rocks - Under the Sand - 8 Women - Swimming Pool - 5x2 - Time to Leave - Angel (2007 film) - Ricky - The Refuge - Potiche - In the House - Jeune & Jolie - (The New Girlfriend) - The Auteurs #33: Francois Ozon
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