Breaking News


In the House 2012

In the House | Dans la maison

In the House-Dans la maison

As film industry reviewers, we say In the House is one of our favorites. If In the House is one of YOUR favorite movies, and to recommend it to other film lovers, please VOTE!

In the House is favorite or unfavorite?

There's always a way in.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this feature film!

About the In the House 💬

  • A teacher looking for inspiration. A student yearning for acceptance. Behind closed doors. Anything is possible. And nothing is safe.

A boy of 16 wants to get in the house of one of his classmates to glean inspiration for his writing assignments. Impressed with this unusual and gifted student, his teacher rediscovers a taste for teaching, but the intrusion sparks a series of uncontrollable events.


Q: IN THE HOUSE was inspired by the Spanish play ''The Boy in the Last Row'' by Juan Mayorga...

François Ozon: I was particularly struck by the teacher-student relationship when I read the play. We root for both the teacher and the student. Both points of view are presented, by turns. Usually, students learn from their teachers, but here, the learning goes both ways. And the back-and-forth between reality and writing lends itself to a playful reflection on storytelling and the imagination. These somewhat theoretical questions are really brought to life in the play. The Germain-Claude relationship represents the essential partnership in any creative endeavor: the editor and the writer, the producer and the director, even the reader and the writer or the audience and the director. When I read the play, I saw a chance to speak indirectly about my work, the cinema, inspiration and its sources, what it is to create, what it is to be an audience.

Q: How did you go about adapting the play for the screen?

François Ozon: The play is a continuous stream of dialogue. There are no acts, no truly contained scenes. The locations are not specified or differentiated, we're everywhere at once: the classroom, the art gallery, the house, the park. My first job was thus to create a space-time structure, organize the story in terms of time and location. Next, I considered placing the action in England. I had immediately pictured the pupils in uniforms, a custom that no longer really exists in France. Germain sees his pupils as sheep - a herd of imbeciles made one by the uniform - and then one kid stands out, the boy in the last row. But placing the action within the context of the English school system implied more adaptation and a long casting process, so I got the idea for a pilot school conducting an experiment to bring back the uniform, which is a recurring debate in France.

I eliminated and simplified a lot of things. In the play, young Rapha was a very good philosophy student, as opposed to Claude, who is good at math. The kids' dialogue was too sophisticated for the reality I wanted to illustrate, too theatrical, too removed. And a lot of theories were developed in the play about the act of creation. I retained only what touched me personally and worked directly with the story.

The fundamental question was how to represent Claude's writing. The first installment is read in its entirety by Germain, alerting the audience to the existence of the continuing narrative to come. Establishing the device quickly and clearly from the beginning allowed me to break free of it that much faster. The second installment is visualized and commented in voiceover by the narrator, Claude. As the film progresses, there is less and less voiceover. Dialogue and images take over, it's cinema.

Q: We're as fascinated by Germain's writing lessons as we are by Claude's writing. Evoking the process of fictionalizing does nothing to diminish the pleasure of watching it come to life on screen, nor does it prevent us from believing it.

François Ozon: And yet what happens in the house is pretty unremarkable, rather trite. At one point I wondered whether I should add something more dramatic, steer the film toward thriller or mystery, make it more Hollywood. Then I realized the real challenge at hand was to make normality fascinating: the father's problems at work and obsession with China; the son's love of basketball and affection for Claude; the mother's boredom and dreams of interior decoration. The idea was to make these ordinary things extraordinary in the telling and the filming, so the tension would rise. The script was designed to encourage audience participation, to actively stimulate the imagination and get us involved in the story. There are missing pieces, and as the film progresses the difference between writing and reality is harder to discern. The editing was crucial in making the original device fade into the background, reinforcing the ellipses and playing with the confusion between reality and fiction.

Q: You even go so far as to physically introduce Germain into Claude's fiction.

François Ozon: That's a reference to a common theatrical device that Bergman used to great effect in WILD STRAWBERRIES and Woody Allen also uses a lot. I didn't want any special effects, I wanted Germain’s intrusions to be very concrete. There comes a point when Germain has to penetrate the fiction, become an active participant. When Claude kisses Esther, Germain steps out of the pantry because the desire is too intense for him. He's the one who told Claude to love his characters, and Claude simply took that advice and ran with it. Germain is constantly getting tripped up by his own discourse.

Q: When Claude asks Esther to run away with him at the end, we wonder if it's actually happening or if he's making it up.

François Ozon: That's right, especially since in the next scene we see him waking up. He might have dreamt it. Esther herself says, ''What happened between us never existed.'' Gradually reality and imagination blend to become one because to me, at the end of the day, it's all real. Even Rapha's suicide is real because Claude wanted it to happen. We have to surrender to the fiction and stop asking questions.

Q: The insistently recurrent music helps us surrender.

François Ozon: Yes. I wanted rhythmic music that would hook the audience. The melody that often plays during the writing passages has a serial feel to it, making you want to know what Claude is going to write next. It permeates the whole film. As with SWIMMING POOL, I gave the script to Philippe Rombi before the shoot and he proposed music in advance, which in turn inspired me and helped me determine my directing choices.

Q: Though hardly naturalist, the film has a strong social subtext. Claude is a disadvantaged child.

François Ozon: That wasn't very clear in the play. We knew his father was handicapped and he didn't have a mother, but those details weren't developed or used. So I needed to create a social context for Claude. We sense from the beginning he's not from the same social class as Rapha, but only at the end do we discover his modest suburban home, confirming his humble background. It was important to discover and visualize Claude's origins late in the film, in order to understand how his initially ironic quest to find a place in the perfect family gradually turned into a feeling of love based on a real lack thereof.

Q: Can we consider the film a self-portrait?

François Ozon: No, but I do relate to the relationship Claude has with Germain. The teachers who meant the most to me were those with whom I experienced a genuine exchange, with whom I didn't feel completely subservient. I experienced this late in my education, when I already knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, with professors like Joseph Morder, Eric Rohmer and Jean Douchet. They nourished me, encouraged me and confirmed some of my instincts, sometimes in spite of themselves. My parents are also teachers. I've seen it all first-hand since childhood. I know what a drag it is to grade papers on the weekend, I know about pet students, tensions with administrators... I had a good handle on the subject. I knew how to approach the things teachers go through: the battles, the burn-out, the often ridiculous constraints of the education system they are subjected to (like the concept of the red pen being stressful to students).

Q: Another subtlety about the teacher-student relationship is that the student does not surpass the teacher. Claude likes Germain's book, and at the end, they sit as ''equals'' on the bench.

François Ozon: The play is different. It ends on the bench in the park across from Rapha's house, with Germain realizing Claude has entered his private life and met his wife. He slaps the boy, tells him he's gone too far and ends their relationship, protecting himself and staying with his wife. This ending didn't ring true to me. I felt everything needed to be totally shaken up in the film. Claude goes farther with his cruelty and there is a real interaction between him and Jeanne. Germain's private life is irreversibly altered by his relationship with Claude, everything is contaminated, as in Pasolini's TEOREMA.

Q: But unlike Pasolini's character, Claude is not a cold manipulator. He ends up getting personally involved.

François Ozon: Claude believes he can infiltrate the family and destroy it from the inside but as it turns out, the family's love is stronger and Claude can't find his place, he is excluded. In many of my films I destroy the family, but here, the family unit possesses a centrifugal force which bonds them together and expulses outsiders. This family is self-sufficient. They have no need to make room for an outsider, which I find both beautiful and monstrous. Claude's dilemma is that he is both narrator and actor. He wants to find a place for himself in his story and, in so doing, he unexpectedly falls in love with Esther. Bit by bit his story gets away from him, he loses control, confuses his imaginary world with reality, becomes two people, becomes a character. By integrating the fiction, he singes his wings too. At the end Claude says, ''My teacher had lost everything'' but so has he, in a certain sense.

Q: A feeling of solitude and exclusion permeates the film.

François Ozon: Claude experiences solitude and exclusion through his writing, but he finds comfort and support in Germain. That's why it was important to reunite them in the final scene, at the rest home. In a way, it's a happy ending. I wanted to end on the bond between these two solitary souls who need each other to create fiction. I visualized that last scene early on: the two of them on a bench, gazing at windows like movie screens. Like the heroine in UNDER THE SAND who runs after a stranger on the beach, Germain and Claude prefer fiction to reality. It's what makes them feel alive.

Q: Fabrice Luchini is particularly moving in that final scene on the bench. The time that has passed shows in his face.

François Ozon: Yes, he has surrendered something, there is an abandon, the character's cracks are showing. He no longer has his glasses, we see the bags under his eyes, his fatigue, his age. The wonderful thing about Fabrice is that he is devoid of the vanity typical of actors when it comes to their physique, their image. And he's not afraid to look ridiculous. We wanted to work together again after POTICHE and he was an obvious choice for Germain. He got totally involved in the role, he had no limits. In certain sequences, he liked the character so much and identified so strongly that he would add lines - I couldn't get him to stop advising Claude about writing! He loves to work, he loves rehearsing, sometimes to the point of vertigo. It's a director's dream to have an actor so devoted, so ready to serve the role. I could tell the film mattered a lot to him, it gave him a chance to express his love for literature. In POTICHE his character was totally against type, a real jerk, but here he could be himself, or at least closer to himself. Perhaps subconsciously, this role of transmitter touched on his own nature as an actor, the reasons why he chose this profession, particularly the theater, his fervor to transmit the great works of literature.

Q: Through Jeanne, you caricature the world of contemporary art.

François Ozon: No, I'm just playing with the usual clichés people have about contemporary art. The avant-garde nature of the art Jeanne exposes serves as a counterpoint to the borderline reactionary classicism Germain champions. He places literature above all other art forms and particularly disdains contemporary art, which he understands nothing about. I thought it was funny to end the film with him staring at that building with all the inhabitants in their little boxes. It looks quite like a typical contemporary art installation!

Q: Why didn't you take the title of the play, ''The Boy in the Last Row''?

François Ozon: I felt that title focused too much on one aspect of the story, the idea of the proverbial ''student in the back row'' who stands out, who is different, often brilliant, yet ill-adapted to social life. I wanted to broaden the scope because to me, all the characters are important and the house is really at the heart of the story, as is the case in many of my previous films. The title IN THE HOUSE thus came naturally.


Q: How would you describe the bond that develops between Germain and Claude?

Fabrice Luchini: Psychology is killing us. Actors always yammering on about their characters! No. It's simpler than that. You've got a teacher and a young man. You've got the pleasure of cinema, delivering your lines, the strange situation the characters are in, the way my character sees this young man embodying the enigma of youth and talent... I don't analyze it, I don't care about the psychology of it.

And when I'm acting opposite Kristin Scott Thomas, all I have to do is adapt to the very different actress she is, with her considerable experience, her intense presence, her incredible physicality. It cannot be diminished, which is why, the moment we start a scene, as soon as she speaks to me and I respond, the dynamic is different than with Ernst. Delectable, no need to fabricate.

Knowing your role doesn't mean knowing your lines by heart. First and foremost, it's about knowing what place you occupy in the overall layout of the film, understanding the action and what cog you are in the wheel that makes the vehicle move forward. So rather than focusing on yourself and preventing the movement of the narration, you propel it forward.

Q: Which cog were you, in this film?

Fabrice Luchini: I don't know how to define it intellectually. I can only define it hierarchically: camera, young man, creation... The lead role is François Ozon's camera, next comes Claude, a sort of twisted Rimbaud. Then in the third position comes the teacher, who progressively loses his footing as he accompanies this young man. For the first scene where I meet Claude, I knew I had to make sure I wasn't playing the words. All I had to play was: How can this be? That's my job: whatever you do, don't play the words. In life I'm extremely analytical, I have an opinion about everything, but on the job, I'm a complete moron.

Q: How is François Ozon's camera the leading role?

Fabrice Luchini: Because it moves. It goes into the house, analyzes it, studies it with irony. It films psychology in Germain's wife, strangeness in the young man, the middle-class at Rapha's house and the imagination through Claude's writing. In the theater, my job is to provoke images, give image to what authors wrote. In an Ozon film, he's the one who gives image to the writing, I'm not responsible for that. I've only been taking roles where I don't have to do anything these past few years!

Q: What was your impression seeing the film?

Fabrice Luchini: An impression of comfort. We get confused watching the film, but rather than feeling cold and abstruse it's completely comfortable. At a certain point, you're floating, you don't know if you're in the writing or in reality and you don't care. It's not dreamlike, the way many of those rather annoying films where you don't understand a thing can be, those horrible Cocteau-wannabe films. And it's not psychological realism either. One word comes to mind: jubilatory.


Q: What were your impressions when you read the script for IN THE HOUSE?

Kristin Scott Thomas: I found it funny and light, yet not superficial. It poses questions, makes you think about the roles of teachers and students, about art, and about our obsession with reality shows. Particularly through the character I play, who is totally hooked on the story Claude is writing. Jeanne has a very voyeuristic attitude toward the Rapha family. Her attitude is very much a part of our time, we are all extremely curious about the lives of others, as evidenced by the popularity of tabloid magazines. Not something to be very proud of!

Q: For Jeanne, getting engrossed in the lives of others is a way of avoiding her own.

Kristin Scott Thomas: Yes. Jeanne is incapable of seeing what's happening right under her nose, and the way her relationship is falling apart leaves her somewhat bitter. The film asks some big questions, but in simple, amusing ways. Directed by someone else this could have been a tragedy, but François has turned it into a funny, scathing story. I like his sense of humor.

Q: How would you describe Jeanne's and Germain's relationship?

Kristin Scott Thomas: They have mutual admiration. They've found their comfort zone in sharing a love of reading and art. They are culturally compatible. Culture is kind of like the child they never had. The child question is only raised at the end of the film, as a result of Germain's relationship with Claude.

Q: What is Claude looking for in Germain?

Kristin Scott Thomas: Help in accessing his imagination and honing his writing style so he can escape his sad reality, with a father condemned to a wheelchair and an absent mother. In escaping to a virtual world, Claude exploits a family. He's a bit of a monster!

Q: The family is also monstrous and ultimately closes in on itself.

Kristin Scott Thomas: Yes, that's a pet theme with Ozon! The family has a monstrous side but they're seen through a satirical lens, it's difficult to take them seriously. We keep a certain distance because the family is being described by Claude. However, there is more reality and accuracy in Jeanne's and Germain's relationship. Ozon filmed us up close, in a small apartment crammed with books, plunging the audience into a more intimate atmosphere.

Q: Jeanne is into contemporary art, Germain is into classic literature.

Kristin Scott Thomas: Yes, but up until the arrival of Claude, that distinction didn’t bother them, it wasn't a source of conflict. They each went about their business. Only when their relationship hits the skids does it become a problem. François films the contemporary art world with derision. The twins reaction to the cloud paintings Jeanne shows them is very funny. They're afraid to say anything.

Jeanne is not a caricature of an art dealer, she questions the value of these works too. The way she tries to sell the paintings reveals her doubt - she's trying to convince herself as much as the buyer. And in the end, she finds herself turning to crafts more than art!


Q: How did you feel when you read the script for IN THE HOUSE?

Ernst Umhauer: I was struck by the similarities between Claude and myself. At his age, I wasn't ''the boy in the last row'', I was the boy in the second-to-last row! And like Claude, I was pretty good at writing but not much else. Of course, Claude and I are also very different. We don't have the same background, we weren't born in the same place, we don't have the same aspirations. I would never go to people's house to ruin their lives! But it was unnerving, especially in my first major role, to find myself back in my teens and back in school, a place I'd been so anxious to leave.

Q: How would you define Claude?

Ernst Umhauer: Claude is the boy in the last row who sees everything, hears everything, has a wild imagination and is ready to do whatever it takes to make his young writer's fantasies come to life. In order to write, he needs to make things happen in real life. Gradually this leads to comical situations. He confuses his writing with reality and turns everything in his path upside-down. He can be prickly and caustic because he hasn't been loved, and his lack of worldly knowledge gets him into trouble. He has no distance, it takes him a long time to realize his words are stinging and can do damage. He's smart, but not very conscious of his responsibility.

Q: Claude is an innocent but also a manipulator, both scary and touching. How do you approach such a character?

Ernst Umhauer: I thought a lot about him in advance, but when it came time to play him, all my intellectualizing fell by the wayside and intuition took over. As an actor, my main job is to transcribe emotions. Claude is both Machiavellian and innocent. He does some shady stuff, but I think most of it comes from age-based awkwardness.

Q: What is Claude looking for in this ''perfect'' family?

Ernst Umhauer: Things he doesn't have. A family life, a father-son bond (his own father being an alcoholic in a wheelchair), a mother's love. Actually, beyond the love of a mother, he discovers the love of a woman with Esther. Thanks to her, he begins to put this new emotion into words as he simultaneously seeks to understand what his life would have been like if he'd been born into this family. He also comes to realize he isn't so badly off, after all, Rapha's family is pretty strange! The love between them is strong, but they have a ridiculous side and he makes fun of them.

Q: The house represents normality, in both the family and society. When it shuts itself off to Claude, it is as though a higher social class is also refusing him entry.

Ernst Umhauer: Claude is clearly conscious of the social dimension in the beginning but very quickly that aspect fades into the background. What he sees most of all is love in this family. The only person he really remains close to is from a higher social class than the family: his teacher, Germain.

Q: The student-teacher relationship between Germain and Claude is very powerful.

Ernst Umhauer: Germain and Claude are two free agents, two total opposites who come together to create a fictional story. Their relationship is somewhat fraught at the start. If they don't click right away, it's partly because Claude is seeking a family more than a mentor and father figure, like his teacher.

Q: Germain is a father figure for Claude but Claude is also running the show and teaching Germain a thing or two.

Ernst Umhauer: Yes, we are all eternal students. At the end, when Germain is drugged up on meds and finds himself in a weaker position, Claude truly takes on the role of the son. He comes to visit him, comforts him, offers his help. In a real father-son relationship, this type of give-and-take is quite common.

Q: How has Claude changed by the end of the film?

Ernst Umhauer: Reassured by Germain's attention, Claude has shed his dark side, his animosity, his fear of others. He's learned that his teacher is also a writer. It's something they share, but Germain wasn't as fortunate: he never had the kind of teacher he's been for Claude.


Q: What were your impressions when you read the script for IN THE HOUSE?

Emmanuelle Seigner: I liked it a lot. I found the role of Esther amusing. In the script, she was difficult to pin down, mysterious, floaty. There was a lot to build on.

Q: Did you get involved in building the character yourself?

Emmanuelle Seigner: I never build a character myself, I do what I'm told. I'm not an actor who researches her roles. I shouldn't say that but it's true. I let the director decide, I wait to see what he wants. In any case, even if you try to decide, the director edits the takes. He has the final cut. Might as well give him what he wants from the get-go! An actor is there to serve the director. Which is actually something I often dislike about this job! That's why I also sing. Singing allows me to be more at peace as an actress so I can hand myself over.

Q: What did François Ozon expect from you?

Emmanuelle Seigner: That I wear the dress he wanted, do my hair the way he wanted, say my lines... An actor's job is a lot easier than people think. When I was younger, I tried to be good. Now that I have more experience and self-confidence, I think the less you try to be good and show what you can do, the better you are.

Q: Esther is a role against type for you.

Emmanuelle Seigner: Right, I'm really not Esther, she completely passive. It's fun to play someone who really isn't you. Along with the shrew I played in Yvan Attal's AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, Esther is one of the most fun roles I've played in my whole career.

Q: How do you see Esther?

Emmanuelle Seigner: Esther is a nice woman. She's endearing and a bit old-fashioned, like a housewife from the 50s or 60s. She's totally devoted to her family and her little house. She'd love to work as an interior decorator but she lacks ambition. She's a middle-class housewife the likes of which you hardly see anymore, since the women's liberation movement. Other than in certain American TV series like ''Desperate Housewives''.

Q: Is Esther happy or is she the world's most bored woman?

Emmanuelle Seigner: A little of both. She's definitely bored, but she has a husband and a son, and at the end of the film we learn she's going to have another child. Many women who give up everything for their careers dream of having a family as Esther has. Ideally, you have both, but not everyone is so lucky. If I had to choose between my career and my family, I would also choose my family.

Q: Do you understand why Claude is fascinated by Rapha's family and Esther in particular?

Emmanuelle Seigner: Yes. Children don't want weird lives, they want to be like everyone else. They crave reassuring role models: a dad who goes to work and a mom at home baking cookies. This normality is what attracts Claude. Esther is sweet and reassuring. We can easily understand why Claude desires her. And she becomes less bland, more interesting, through his amorous gaze.

Q: What attracts Esther to Claude?

Emmanuelle Seigner: Is she really attracted to Claude? Did that kiss in the kitchen actually happen? Could it be Claude made it up? Is François playing with our minds?!

In the House Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

François Ozon

Writing Credits

François Ozon (Screenplay)

Juan Mayorga (Play)


Fabrice Luchini

Kristin Scott Thomas

Emmanuelle Seigner

Denis Ménochet

Ernst Umhauer

Bastien Ughetto

Jean-François Balmer

Yolande Moreau

Catherine Davenier

Music by

Philippe Rombi

Cinematography by

Jérôme Alméras

Category: EFA, European Film Award Winner

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Country: France

In the House Official Trailer

Our Choice

Favorite 🌟 Favourite

It's Your Turn!

✋ This content is prepared by All Favorite Movies (AFM).

📣 You can take part in a vote, leave a comment and share in your social media to spread the world your favorite movies!

No comments: