Synopsis: A 16 year-old boy wheedles his way into the home of one of his class-mates in order to write stories about them, that he then shares with his teacher. The teacher, intrigued by the boy’s writing, ends up encouraging the boy to continue despite his initial misgivings.
What can I say? The synopsis really doesn’t do this film justice; it’s much funnier, more intelligent and compelling than it sounds. At first it sees quite straightforward – Claude (Umhauer) has started writing about the intimate details of his classmate’s family life – but under the tutelage of Germain (Luchini), the boy re-writes the story and it becomes unclear if he is writing the truth or fiction.
The baby-faced young writer appears at once angelic and sinister, and sometimes more than a little creepy, on the whole stealing the show. Kristen Scott-Thomas was very much Kristen Scott-Thomas and Fabrice Luchini put on a good show as the baffled, tired teacher.
Final thoughts: This film is refreshingly different (is that a tagline for a beer?) insofar as it is clever, engaging and original. When I left the cinema my initial thoughts were positive, but I found that I liked it even more as I mulled it over afterwards.
Directed by: Francois Ozon
Starring: Kristen Scott-Thomas, Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer
Running time: 1 hr 45 minutes
In French with subtitles