Director Francois Ozon (“The Swimming Pool”) serves arguably, one of the most intriguing, conversation-provoking films of the year; wickedly psychological, creepily voyeuristic “In The House” explores the relationship between a beleaguered, bored, high school English professor “Germain” (caustic, keen-witted performance by Fabrice Luchini) and his precocious student “Claude” (titillating portrayal by handsome newcomer, Ernst Umhauer).
Lonely, manipulative Claude, writes about his successful mission to be invited into the home of a “perfect” family; he studies his classmates and hones in on “Rapha” (well cast, Batien Ughetto); in a series of “to be continued” essays he captivates Germain, and his wife “Jeanne” (subtle, humorous depiction by Kristin Scott Thomas), an art dealer, living vicariously through Claude’s homework; Germain recognizes Claude’s innate storytelling gift and in an unusual shift, commences the tutoring process.
“In the House” moves intensely from one family’s dynamic to another; “Claude” is the catalyst, at first seemingly innocent, progressively problematic, Svengali- like, he weaves his magic; his quest for familial perfection morphs into perfidy; brilliantly, never defined, the “gray” areas in this film are hypnotically inscrutable.
Literary lovers and art aficionados will savor copious aphorisms regarding art and literature’s transformative powers (or lack thereof); Germain and Jeanne with scissor-sharp fervor and seasoned intellects, gift viewers a hearty diet of delicious, iconoclastic assessments.
You recognize the fineness, uniqueness of a film when it lingers, tickling the subconscious, vacillating between empirical certainties and concrete logic. “In the House” poses a plethora of questions, with a plentitude of disparate answers, equaling an abundance of entertainment.