Director: Ozon

Young French director Francois Ozon, who made a big impression with his shorts A Summer Dress and See the Sea, is destined to raise many more eyebrows with this black-comedy feature debut. Sitcom takes an archetypal bourgeois family and subjects it to some alarming transformations in a spirit of amused malice that owes a little to cinema’s great surrealist, Luis Bunuel, and even more to camp iconoclasts Pedro Almod’var and John Waters.
When model father Jean (Francois Marthouret) brings a rat home as a pet, Sophie and Nicolas (real-life siblings Marina and Adrien de Van) are pleased but Helene (Evelyne Dandry) isn’t. Mom’s reservations prove well founded, since the unassuming little rodent becomes a catalyst for changing the family. Sophie throws herself out of a window, but survives and is confined to a wheelchair, after which her sex life with boyfriend David (Stephane Rideau) turns to whips and chains. The increasingly extrovert Nicolas announces that he’s gay and hosts orgies in his bedroom. Helene becomes increasingly stymied as to what her parental role should be.
Ozon twists and stretches the basic sitcom format until it shrieks, throwing in elements of horror and fantasy amidst the more usual comedy and farce. He is good at juggling situations so that each character is given special attention to reveal their peculiar perversions. The excellent cast play it for all it’s worth, with Evelyne Dandry outstanding as the perfect housewife who acts as our appalled guide to the bizarre shenanigans on display before herself succumbing as only a mother can. Intending viewers should note that Ozon has a bold, jaunty take on all manner of sexual proclivities, including homosexuality, bisexuality, SandM and incest.

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