INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ PRIZE (FIPRESCI PRIZE) AT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2012
Claude, a high school French teacher, corrects his students’ essays with utter boredom—that is, until one of them makes him stop short. With consummate skill, a student has described how he has insinuated himself into his classmate’s home life so that he can get to know his parents. The essay piques Claude’s curiosity, prompting him to find out more about this young man whose fluid prose bears the promise of great talent. If the ensuing relationship between the jaded professor and his gifted pupil is surprising, what follows is even more so. For his thirteenth feature, Ozon handles the idea of an indiscretion that morphs into obsession with his trademark flair. Introducing a strange, mysterious character into an altogether ordinary family, he concocts a dangerous brew of escalating tensions and a game of cat-and-mouse in which it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish between predator and prey. In his masterful use of red herrings and his superb pacing that heightens the suspense with each new twist, the French filmmaker stokes our voyeurism, slyly feeding our guilty pleasure of spying through the keyhole.