In the House (2012) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

In the House (2012) Directed by François Ozon. Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer and Kristin Scott Thomas.


I feel acutely self-conscious about writing a review for a film that is about someone being judged on their writing prowess. In The House (Dans la maison) is a French drama directed by François Ozon and based on the play, The Boy in the Last Row. It is about an unorthodox relationship between a teacher and a pupil; the former taking the latter under his wing to guide him through a writing project, which gives way to an increasingly dangerous amount of voyeurism.

Claude (Ernst Umhauer) is an inquisitive boy. His potential as a writer captures the attention of his frustrated school teacher, Germian (Fabrice Luchini), when he hands in an assignment describing his visit to a friends house – the most significant thing being, Claude’s desire for his friends mother.

What is most intriguing about the film, is the way in which the method of storytelling keeps us guessing as to what may or may not be happening. As Claude’s writing and experiences are read by his teacher, he is encouraged to express himself with multiple versions of the truth – meaning we sometimes witness two scenes play out with varying results. As the drama escalates and the stakes inevitably raise, we are asked to use our intuition to separate fact from fiction.  Along with the tangled web of half-truths, the film also features good moments of humour, particularly between Germain and his wife, played by the ever brilliant Kristin Scott Thomas.

Being partly a film about artistic interpretation, there is a certain amount of ambiguity in its design. Ozon’s direction is strong and he gets fine performances, paired with a mischievous brand of humour offset by a dark subtext. With frequent non-linear jumps and fourth-wall breakage, In The House is a film that ultimately registers as more of a curious experience, above anything else. 3/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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12 Responses to In the House (2012) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Dude the cleaner says:

    I didn’t see that one. I will look it up. Thanks. Nice review. To me this is my opinion François Ozon is our Woody Allen in France.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I like the idea of a French Woody Allen. I liked his film, Potiche, too. I’ll look forward to seeing more of his work. There is a playfulness to it and he has an interesting style.

  2. filmfunkel says:

    My curiosity is piqued – I must check this out as well – merci.

    Is the film an uncomfortable microscope for writer-viewers? Or was that an observation on your part?

    • garethrhodes says:

      You’re most welcome. It’s always good to have your input.

      I suppose many of us who write have to deal with regular bouts of insecurity. Watching someone criticise someone else’s writing made me a little uneasy, but that might just be me.

  3. Laura says:

    Nicely written, I liked this a lot more than you.

  4. Jay says:

    Fear not, this was well-written and you’ve obviously hooked a few of us.

  5. Claude is also trying to create a perfect family to replace the one he hasn’t got. (Remember the scene at home with his father.) And it’s possible that Germian is the voyeur by proxy, enjoying Claude’s attraction to his friend’s mother as a replacement for the lack of love and passion in his own marriage.

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