Ozon - 2013 07 26 - In The House

IN THE HOUSE
(Dans la maison)
France 2012
Directed by François Ozon
Running time: 105 minutes
Format: 35mm

In discussing this most recent entry from Ozon’s prolific filmography, critics have issued comparisons that range from CÉLINE AND JULIE GO BOATING (Rivette 74) to REAR WINDOW (Hitchcock 54). True, there are similarities to be considered: Rivette’s fiction unfurls in a house that serves as a baseline for the superstructure of the fiction of the film, and Jimmy Stewart plays Hitchcock’s inveterate looky-loo whose scopophilia is anything but harmless. But IN THE HOUSE doesn’t implicate our gaze in the same way these two films do. Instead, Ozon’s winsome compositions transport us across much more novelistic terrain.

This is a film whose highest refrains complicate the idea of presence by playing out the consequences of a high school professor’s tête-à-tête indoctrinations into a specific (curmudgeonly? classical?) taste in literary construction. His teaching undergoes a kind of transformation in the mind of his pupil. The platonic idea of desire-and-its-obstacles manifest not in the bourgeois-realist particulars espoused by his teacher, but in a sort of pulpy, domestic melodrama (“Is this Pasolini?”) that eventually crosses the threshold of health and home. Echoes of Jean de La Fontaine, “a great master at reconciling form and content,” ring through this film’s lens on pedagogy and middle-class French homelife.

KURTISS HARE
26 July 2013