It’s a new school year. Mr. Germain (Fabrice Luchini), a jaded English teacher, assigns his students an essay to describe their summer. The results are disappointing to him. His students lack imagination. That is until he reads the essay from Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer). The essay divulges that Claude’s summer was spent spying on classmate Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) and his parents from the park outside their house. His goal, he admits, was to get inside that house.
Germain reads the essay to his wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) who deconstructs it by adding a psychological spin. Germain thinks the essay is ironic. He talks to Claude who is flattered but confused.
“What if Rapha were to read it?” He repeats Germain’s question.
“I wrote it for you,” Claude declares.
They spar on the matter of whether or not Rapha and his family are okay fodder, but they are both hooked—Germain sees raw talent in Claude’s writing and Claude wants to become a better writer. Claude continues writing essays telling the tale about how he gets into the house and the drama that unfolds once he’s in. Germain begins to work with Claude on writing outside of class and this draws attention from the school administration and other students.
The movie parallels the process of watching a novel unfold. Surreal details are thrown into scenes. Occasionally, it’s difficult to decipher what’s actually happening from Claude’s imagination. We delve into complex characters with a lot at stake: relationships, friendships, adolescent challenges and the banality of reality. None of the characters remains untouched by Claude existence. His actions will result in the destruction of everyone’s lives as they knew it pre-Claude. Claude brings forth several personal apocalypses.
Director: François Ozon
Genre: Drama that plays like a thriller
Run time: 105 minutes