Director and co-writer François Ozon's (Potiche) Dans la Maison (In The House) doesn't begininahousebutina classroom as disillusioned French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) starts another school year. Germain's disenchantment with thequality of work his students produce, particularlyincreative writing, is exasperated bytheschools adoption of new teaching techniques and reinstatingthemore traditional concept of having a school uniform. In a sea of uninterested mediocrity, a student Claude (Ernst Umhauer) piques Germain's teaching interest whenthe16 year olds writing assignment ends with an intriguing 'to be continued.' Centring his story 'inthehouse' of his mathematically challenged classmate Rapha Junior (Jean-François Balmer) Claude offers to be his after school tutor thus allowing himself a pretext to enterthehousehold he has observed throughouttheSummer.
Dans La Maison plays withtheconcept of fiction and narration itself blurringthelines between what Claude is writing andthereality ofthesituation. Germain becomes more involvedinClaude's writing andthestory due totheboys' serialisation of events.Thejaded teacher brings his work home with him as he has his wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) readsthestories.Thecouple speculates onthenature ofthestory and writing withtheback drop of Jeanne's art gallery possibly being closed. Thestory oscillates betweenthefunny and potentially unnerving with Scott Thomas' ever escalating plundering of artistic extremes being a major contributor tothefilms humour. One simply hasn't lived until one has seen a (female) air doll of Chairman Mao or a phallic swastika painting. However,thefilm has a deceptively light tone and increases it's shades of grey as Claude's real motivations begin to surface. A mixture of precocious talent and adolescent desire creates Claude's depiction of Rapha Junior's mother Esther (Emmanuelle Seigner) and father Rapha Senior (Denis Ménochet). What is real and what is fiction is constantly asked oftheaudience as Germain's reader participation is increased more and more. Some might feel that Dans la Maison has an unsatisfactory ending buttheambiguity has been signalled pleasingly throughoutthefilm. Alltheleads, particularly Ernest Umhauer, walkthefine line of toying withthe audienceinterms of being an unreliable narrator which is atthecentre of Dans la Maison. Rating: 4 stars out of 5 In The House (Dans La Maison). France 2012. Directed by Francois Ozon. Starring Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ernest Umhauer... Out in the UK on the 29th of March 2013