Before his first real feature-length film, François Ozon produced an impressive chain of short films during his cinema student years and beyond. In 1997, the medium-length film "Regarde La Mer" made many film lovers put hopes in this voracious filmmaker. When he was a cinema student, one of his professors kept on repeating him: "Go on! Make movies. Believe in what you're making!". This leitmotiv remained stuck on his mind since Ozon makes at least one movie a year. Passion has no limits. But now back in 1998 about "Sitcom", a cannonball in the calm landscape of French cinema which was written in a fortnight and shot in one month, this quirky offering was disowned by a good part of the French press specialized in cinema and it's easy to see why. It was too much for them to give thumbs up to this special piece of work which already showcases the Ozon style. This first offering already lets see his influences, his cinematographic, cinema-going tastes. It spans Claude Chabrol for the bourgeois milieu, Luis Bunuel for the will to shatter this milieu through unexpected means and some dreamlike sequences. Furthermore, the beginning of the film with the arrival of the Spanish maid in the desirable mansion echoes to the scene with the arrival of the bishop hired as a gardener to the Sénéchals in "Le Charme Discret De La Bourgeoisie" (1972) or even the arrival of Jeanne Moreau to the Monteils in "Le Journal D'Une Femme De Chambre" (1964) and Ozon clouds the issues with some indications such as "a few months sooner" or "a few months later" like in "Un Chien Andalou" (1928) or "l'Age D'or" (1930) and give the whole an unreal side. Then, like the "king of bad taste and extravagance" (you probably guessed his name) author of "Serial Mom" (1994), Ozon has a liking for trash humor and shocking. "Sitcom" also presents the seeds of what will be developed later in Ozon's subsequent films, notably the sublime "8 Femmes" (2002) or "Swimming Pool" (2003): a will to enclose his characters in an isolated space to shatter them and to lay bare what's going on in their tormented minds. Also a freewheeling look on sexuality and the inclusion of the grotesque and the admirable. Here, Ozon takes the corny clichés of the sitcom and explodes them through defaced scenery, ugly cinematography and characters who are devoid of interest and are only puppets. The father who only expresses himself through proverbs and can't see for a long time the disorder which reigns in the house. The mother a little uptight who struggled hard to keep order and harmony. The son, serious at the outset who discovers his homosexuality and gradually becomes outgoing. The daughter, an artist who seems marooned in her education and her life. Possible exit: suicide. An universe which goes awry because of a white rat which sets the depths of the unconscious free. If one accepts without ulterior reasons, the preposterous staple idea I have just mentioned, "Sitcom" is much fun to watch. The topic could also have given birth to a satire of the bourgeois milieu but it rather takes a back seat. Instead, Ozon prefers to unleash his perverse frenzy of a sadistic child. He apes the nasty piece of work through a series of sequences, perhaps a little loosely linked up and dovetailed but they are virtually all funny and peppered with perennial, nagging black humor and powerful lines. Ozon will keep to the tail end these features and this assumed schoolboy tone. Different sexual moments may give the film a catalog side but they are virtually all filmed with a certain reserve. The actors all match with their respective roles. One will notice the presence of Marina De Van who before had already worked with Ozon (see "Regarde La Mer") and will after. By the way, her gruesome film "Dans Ma Peau" (2002) isn't suitable for the general public. Anyway, Evelyne Dandry's acting has strong resonances with Hélène Vincent's in Etienne Chatiliez' debut and best film "la Vie Est Un long Fleuve Tranquille" (1988) and François Marthouret's solemn cues could be worth alone the price of admission. "Sitcom" is a dirty, unreal treat brimming with naughtiness. Ozon's trademark is already palpable in his debut film which, however isn't for all tastes. Make up your mind if you find it repulsive or hilarious.
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Comedy / Drama / Romance
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The adventures of an upper-class suburban family abruptly confronted with the younger brother's discovery of his homosexuality, the elder sister's suicide attempt and how much do you want-masochist tendencies, and the intrusion of a
November 17, 2021