French director François Ozon's latest, the insidiously creepy domestic thriller "In the House," ties knots in your stomach as it walks its characters through a moral swamp of truth and fantasy.
Mr. Germain (Fabrice Luchini) teaches writing and French literature in a Paris high school, where years of lackluster students and esteem-boosting educational theories have left him jaded. He shares his frustration with his wife, Jeanne (Kristen Scott Thomas), an art gallery manager worried that her gallery's new twin-sister owners (both played by Yolande Moreau) are too provincial to approve of her sexually frank artists. Ozon's inclusion of a sexual blow-up doll with Hitler's face is, presumably, a commentary on artistic overreach, or something.
Emerging from this sea of mediocrity is Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer), a student who not only does his assignments but seems to show a creative spark. In his writing, Claude details how he has befriended a classmate, Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), and insinuated himself in Rapha's home where Rapha's dad (Denis Ménochet) talks about his ego-deflating sales job, and where Rapha's still-hot mom (Emmanuelle Seigner) pores over decorating magazines and dreams of a home makeover.