Around about a week ago, I went to the movies with Maria, the Spanish assistant, who is quite "cinematically" inclined. We've been sharing notes on out favorite silent-era stars. Mine, hands down, is Buster Keaton.
In the great French tradition of Maupassant, Balzac, Proust and horny teenage boys who fantasize about sleeping with their best friend's mother, Dans la maison is the new film from director François Ozon. The story of a high school French teacher encouraging a gifted writing student to explore his abilities in - rather than a novel - a mock exposé of la famille de la classe moyenne which become all too real when the feelings he wants to explore are those of his best friend's mom!
From Catherine Deneuve's role as creepy stalker-mom in Après lui to basically anything starring Isabelle Huppert, the French have a long cinematic history - and literary, but that's a different subject - of dealing with older women and younger men, or quasi-incestuous relationships. I find those sorts of things to be ridiculous after a while.I mean, really, the 20-year-old guy is going to pursue a 50-year-old woman when he'd have an easier time sticking to girls his own age? Suuuuure. That's not to say older women are not sexy. Mesdemoiselles Deneuve and Huppert prove the contrary. But what sort of relationship potential do you have with a woman old enough to be your mother? And what does she see in you anyway? A hot bod can only do so much for rapport.
The point of Dans la maison, of course, is to parody all this by reducing the scenario to the absurd. The young boy, having finished his story with the family of his best friend (by bedding the mother, of course), moves on to his teacher's family, i.e. his wife (they have no children together). This slap in the face from a person the teacher had wished to inspire, and had so diligently mentored, is the height of the farce. And the craziest thing - the most Proustian thing - is that we never get to know whether this was all going on in the student's head, or if it really happened. French film at its finest!