“IN THE HOUSE” My rating: B (Opening May 17 at the Tivoli and Glenwood Arts)
105 minutes | MPAA rating: R
It’s not a thriller, exactly, but the French release “In the House” has a way of toying with its audience that reminds of Hitchcock at his most perverse.
And when it’s all over you’re not exactly sure what you’ve seen. Which is exactly the point.
On the outside, anyway, the latest film from writer/director Francois Ozon (“Under the Sand,” “8 Women,” “Swimming Pool,” “Potiche”) doesn’t seem particularly threatening.
It begins in a French high school where middle-aged language arts teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) finds himself once again confronted by a crop of bonehead students who would rather doze than contemplate Flaubert.
Assigned to write essays on how they spent their weekend, the young dullards respond with four-sentence “compositions.” But there is one ray of hope in this dreary bunch, a young man named Claude (Ernst Umhauer) who turns in a provocative paper about going to the home of fellow student to tutor him in math.
On the surface, this seems unremarkable and innocent.
Yet Germain senses something disturbing and compelling in Claude’s penetration of a pristine suburban home that he has often dreamed of entering. Claude may be there for a legitimate reason — to tutor his mathematically-challenged classmate Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) — but he’s also an interloper, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who takes advantage of the situation to spy on the lives of his economic betters, to violate their privacy.