Popcorn Preview: In the House

Film: In the House (2012) ["Dans la maison"]
Cast includes: Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool)
Director: Fabrice Luchini (The Woman on the 6th Floor), Ernst Umhauer (The Monk), Kristin Scott Thomas (Gosford Park), Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Denis Ménochet (Inglourious Basterds)
Genre: Mystery | Suspense (105 minutes) French with subtitles

The new school year begins, and yes... Germain got the memo. The bold new policies, such as school uniforms, don't impress him at all. But after all these years, maybe Germain's gotten cynical. His literature class is "the worst ever." Jeanne thinks her husband is exaggerating, so he reads some of their latest homework out loud. He asked them to write about their weekend, and they wrote about pizza, cell phones and TV. One is worse than the next, until... "been looking at the perfect house from the outside... been wanting to see inside... so offered to help Rapha (a classmate) with his math homework, as a way of getting inside..." Claude's paper is definitely not like the others... "Eventually I became aware of the singular scent of a middle-class woman... followed the odor... it lead to Rapha's mother." Germain wonders if Claude realizes how hurtful and embarrassing his composition could be if he read it in class. "It's not written to be read by anyone but you," says Claude. Germain cautions Claude to be more aware of the potential harm he could do with his writing. But Claude's already written the next installment.

When Germain reads it to Jeanne, she feels Claude might be dangerous. Germain thinks he's just a rebel. At the school office, he looks at Claude's file... shy, an only child, living with his dad, moved a lot... nothing alarming. Maybe a bit of extra attention is warranted. "I brought you some books from my library." Claude's brought the next installment... "Rapha's dad... green sweat pants... sweaty... obsessed with basketball... pizza... chicken wings... under the thumb of his boss and a demanding client." Germain finds it mocking, judgmental... even a bit snarky. "So why are you helping me?" Claude asks. "You write well and deserve encouragement," Germain has to admit. "You haven't shown these to anyone else, have you?" asks Claude. "Of course not." Actually, Germain and Jeanne have started looking forward to their evening readings of each new installment. As Claude insinuates himself in Rapha's home, Rapha's mother is starting to find him creepy. Claude overhears her telling her husband that she finds him "strange." She thinks they should get Rapha a math tutor so Claude won't be in their home all the time. "To be continued..."

As the plot thickens, the line between writing and real life becomes rather blurred. The line between voyeurs and subjects becomes blurred. Eventually, Germain, and even Jeanne, find themselves playing roles in the strange drama. Each time Germain gives Claude a purely literary critique, Claude takes the story in a more ominous direction. At some point, it becomes difficult to figure out if the events are actually happening... or if Claude is adding a bit of fiction. There's definitely something creepy about Claude. But on the other hand, he's a talented writer... wouldn't any teacher offer encouragement? "You've gone to far," warns Germain. "To be continued..." says Claude.

2 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
A gifted but strange student finds a way to insinuate himself into the home of a classmate and write about it

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment

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