Director: François Ozon

105 minutes, France, 2012, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

The prolific François Ozon follows his social satire Potiche with a new confection which is even more fun while delivering thoughtful substance to match. Fabrice Luchini shines once more as an old-fashioned French tutor in a trendy high school, who thinks he’s uncovered a rare talent when reading student-provocateur Ernst Umhauer’s vivid writing exercise evocations of a classmate’s idealised bourgeois home life and alluring mother (Emmanuelle Seigner). Soon he’s encouraging his prize-pupil to take the tale further, then adding his own pedagogic ‘improvements’ – but as we see all this played out, it’s hard to know where reality ends and individual fantasy begins.

Given Luchini’s own thwarted creative ambitions and his arid marriage to snooty gallery manager Kristin Scott Thomas, Ozon obviously invites us to examine the personal agendas behind such storytelling impulses, but the film’s seriousness of purpose isn’t allowed to impact on its gleeful Buñuelian comedy of manners and wicked puncturing of bourgeois pretensions. Brilliant cast, glittering entertainment (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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