In the House
After his limp 70s-set comedy Potiche, the latest offering from François Ozon finds the director back on top form. With its exploration of voyeurism and manipulation, In the House covers similar territory to Ozon's earlier Swimming Pool, but is distinguished by its crafty sense of humour.
Fabrice Luchini plays Mr Germain, a school teacher and failed novelist whose curiosity is piqued when student Claude (impressive newcomer Ernst Umhauer) writes a short story detailing his exploration of a friend's home. Soon Germain and his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) become co-authors of the narrative and push the teenager further into the lives of his companion's family in their eagerness to know more. It's a tale that could be played for laughs or squeezed for maximum tension and Ozon does both, neatly working multiple layers of intrigue and perfectly timed surprises into his screenplay. Are we being told the whole story here? Or is Claude playing us all for fools? A second viewing may be required to answer those questions, and would certainly be a pleasure in this instance. [Philip Concannon]