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With Jim Sabatini

In the House

In the House
Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner

Rated: R for sexual content and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: April 19, 2013 Released by: Cohen Media Group

Imagination and voyeuristic tendencies help fuel Francois Ozon's provocative dark comedy adapted from Juan Mayorga's play.

In The House stars Fabrice Luchini, newbie Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott-Thomas, and Emmanuelle Seigner, and is in French with English subtitles.

The auteur of Potiche (which also stars Luchini) and Swimming Pool provides multiple viewpoints that maneuvers from wry observation on manners to disgruntlement. Luchini (also of Potiche and Moliere as well as The Girl From Monaco) is in fine comedic form as a snooty literature teacher at a modish school who revels in an impish, gasping way when one of his rare, literate pupils Claude, an enigmatic, unctuous Umhauer, makes quite a plot (initially "to be continued") from his latest assignment.

Ozon the writer sees how Claude has become fascinated with the lower-middle-class family of close friend Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) and goes with it in ways that could be frustrating as the "process" of the story unfolds. The filmmaker handles it to deft, interpretative effect (in whodunit fashion)  to see if or how reality is blurred in and around Rapha's house with Alpha Ralpha father (Denis Menochet) and his benevolent, if oblivious mother, Esther ( a change of pace for Seigner of The Diving Bell and Butterfly).

Of course, the interested teacher wants his student to develop his composition more fully to show more literary promise and technique which also has meaning for his struggling avant-garde art entrepreneur wife Jeanne, endowed with a prickly yearning by the usually reliable Scott-Thomas of Sarah's Key and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen.

A taut storyline that finds humorous, natural rhythms also is attuned to authorial gratification and the moral ambiguity around the vigilance of what may be stranger than fiction. It's the way the cast responds to the thoughtfully cynically treatment of the material (with an eye for Alfred Hitchcock) that provides much of the entertainment; in particular, the smooth rapport between Luchini and Umhauer. Not to neglect the smaller, but still the impact contributions of Ughetto and Menochet. A dependable Ozon knows how to keep the discernible in his impassioned loop with capriciously suggestive, even startling flair for what In The House does for examining and tweaking creative writing.

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In the House        B+                     B+ 

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