François Ozon - site officiel

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Interview with Kristin Scott Thomas

Kristin Scott Thomas - Dans la maisonWhat were your impressions when you read the script for IN THE HOUSE?

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 from the popularity of tabloid magazines. Not something to be very proud of!

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

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.

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

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.

What is Claude looking for in Germain?

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!

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

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.

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

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!

Kristin Scott Thomas - Dans la maisonWhat was it like meeting François Ozon?

We'd met several times before. I found him interesting, sharp, provocative. He's got a glimmer in his eye, he talks a mile a minute, he's a workaholic, interested in everything, very cultured, aware of what's going on.

And the shoot?

I'd just finished a Pinter play in London, a very dark piece that ran for a number of months. I'd kind of forgotten what it was like to work in film! François has a rather unusual way of working. To start with, he frames the shots himself. I'd never seen that before. The other thing about this shoot was most of the film had already been shot by the time I arrived. My scenes were all that was left, they were waiting for me like the Messiah! It's not easy to insert yourself into an atmosphere that has already been established.

How does François Ozon direct his actors?

He knows how he wants you to move down to the last millimeter. His precision reminds me of Polanski. François is very pragmatic, and he's a stickler for how the lines should be delivered. In this type of French comedy, the speed and style of delivery must be very precise. The story is not based on the characters' psychology, it's anti-Method. It's all about the rhythm and listening to your partner.

And meeting Fabrice Luchini?

Fabrice Luchini had been shooting for several weeks when I arrived, he was totally immersed in his role, very comfortable with the crew and with François. I'm used to being the one in the strong position, with the other person more vulnerable. Here, the tables were turned! It was the first time Fabrice and I have worked together, and I hope it won't be the last. We complement each other on screen, we seem like we've worked together our entire lives! It was very easy to exchange ideas with him. Undoubtedly because we share the experience of the theater and the stage. I was also very impressed by Ernst Umhauer's performance. He plays beautifully opposite Fabrice in the film.