François Ozon is no stranger when it comes to pushing the envelope, and watching his comedy “Sitcom” on TV for the very first time had me cringing in my seat. This is black comedy of the darkest kind where nothing is taboo – the shock is in the way in which it is depicted with utter glee.
He belongs to an exclusive group of equally talented and successful directors working in French cinema today. His films have a definitive style and are generally known for their satirical wit, sexual themes, and grotesque characterisations. Despite their art cinema credentials, his films do well commercially. I hope to write more about him as I review some of his other films here, including some shorts made early in his career.
A model upper-crust family in suburban Paris – father, mother, a grown up daughter, and son. It all starts when dad brings home a pet rat as present for the family. Mum hates it straightaway, but the kids don’t mind. Things however begin to change for everyone who comes in close contact with the rat. The son announces that he’s now a homosexual, and starts inviting strangers into his room for God knows what. He also begins an affair with the maid’s husband who had also been bitten by the rat. The daughter decides to throw herself out of the window; she survives but is now paralysed waist-down. She also appears to have acquired a taste for sadomasochism, and the poor boyfriend will now be her frequent slave. The mother, distraught at her son’s change of sexual preference decides to ‘cure’ his homosexuality by showing him what he’s missing, and the siblings talk about trying it out with their father next. At a retreat, it dawns on the mother that the root cause of all the problems in the family is the rat, and instructs the dad to get rid of it. Well, he does, but with unforeseen consequences…
The farcical comedy is only François Ozon’s second feature film, but his genius for naughtiness clearly shows through with the outrageous satire of familial values that he manages to create – the rat is merely thrown in as a red herring. But this film is above all, a comedy, a twisted and at times kinky one at that. It has none of the seriousness that Pier Paolo Pasolini attached to an earlier classic Teorema – both these films have themes in common. The bright interiors and shiny people poke fun at American-style TV sitcom culture, the dialogues are replete with base humour delivered in the most straight-faced manner, and the performance by all the main cast is truly impressive, particularly Évelyne Dandry who plays the mother, and a young Marina de Van who plays the daughter. Rest assured, we’ll see a lot more from this talented director and actress in the blog. Needless to say, this hysterical black comedy is Highly Recommended ‘Adult’ Viewing..!
The Nudity: Marina de Van, Lucia Sanchez, and Adrien de Van
There is only brief nudity shown in passing scenes, but it is more than made up for in the jaw-dropping events they actually depict.