By Ricky Young
As we join the start of another school year in suburbia, François Ozon opens his film Dans La Maison (In The House) with a clean and crisp montage of modern architectural lines, frosted glass, polished corridors, and crushing normality. In the first staff meeting, Germain (Fabrice Luchini – a shuffling, ill-dentured turtle of a man) learns that even with regards to the students’ dress, uniformity of thought is making a big comeback. A failed novelist and only-mildly-engaged literature teacher, we watch him deflate further than even he thought possible, then waddle off to his first class to set the traditional ‘What I Did This Summer’ paper and wait for the day to be over. His story ended some years ago, we imagine.
Marking his papers at home, however, he finds a surprisingly fruity submission from a new wrong-side-of-the-tracks pupil, Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer – like a fresher James McAvoy, but without that constant worry that his nose is about to drip), detailing his desire to get inside the house of a class-mate, for purposes as yet unknown. The essay ends with ‘To Be Continued’, leaving Germain and his art-dealer wife (Kristen Scott-Thomas – doing that suspicious ‘speaking-French’ thing again) hanging with a mixture of unease and prurience that threatens to spice up their comfortable yet boring existence. If, that is, they choose to let it.