In the House (Dans la maison) (R)

Suspense/Thriller 105 June 7, 2013
A charming display of auto-critique, In the House is a cocktail of one part Shadow of a Doubt, one part Rear Window, and two parts Jacques Derrida: It's not so much a thriller as a playful deconstruction thereof, allowing characters to comment on their own roles in the narrative. Most of the commentary comes from Germain (Fabrice Luchini), who teaches literature at a suburban French high school, where his students might be characterized as barely sentient. But one, Claude (Ernst Umhauer), has a gift for storytelling. Claude's writings detail his increasingly creepy involvement with his friend Rapha's (Bastien Ughetto) family. Claude spies on Rapha's gorgeous mom (Emmanuelle Seigner) and as his behavior approaches stalking, Germain thrills at Claude’s account of all this, urging him to proceed with his story-- and, by proxy, his behavior toward Rapha's family. "It lacks a conflict," Germain tells Claude, sounding like an exasperated filmmaker. In the House creates something far more original than the same old heart-pounding. Germain's meta-narrative commentary ensures an alienating effect, and therein lies the refreshing uniqueness: Since Hitchcock's films are perpetually analyzed by film theorists, why not provide the space for such analysis within a thriller itself? As the narrative gamesmanship ramps up—Germain becomes the audience’s surrogate and advocate, demanding more conflict; Claude begins to criticize Germain's criticism from within the stories themselves-- In the House investigates a far tougher riddle than what makes Claude tick-- it's trying to figure out why, exactly, voyeurism and mystery delight us so. In the process, it delights.
François Ozon Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner, Denis Ménochet, Bastien Ughetto, Jean-François Balmer, Yolande Moreau, Catherine Davenier Juan Mayorga, François Ozon Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer Cohen Media Group


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