What a delightful film this was.
A frustrated teacher of French facing a class full of underachieving teens happens upon one with a difference. No two-sentence summary of his weekend for the assignment, no! A two-pager full of descriptions of his nefarious plot to insinuate himself into the home of a classmate. But was it good writing or pure impertinence and disrespect? À suivre…
The pretext is math, at least at first. Raphaël fils is not very good at it, but our hero Claude is. This serves to get him into the house to help out with the math homework and exam preparation. Plan the study session right and you will have time to explore.
The normality of the family, the scent of a middle class woman…these morph into a developing story which veers toward an obsession with the alabaster skin and the middle class beauty of Esther, Rapha's mother.
Each short episode submitted as a writing assignment to his French teacher, who starts coaching him in his writing and contributing in other ways, too, while he and his wife are always waiting for the next episode like addicts waiting for their next drug delivery. Well, that might be a bit extreme. And the Raphas? None the wiser.
There's a funny little side story about the teacher's wife and her efforts to book an exhibit for the small gallery at which she works that will save it from closure by the twin owners. The Tyranny of Sex, pictured above, is not the final choice, but probably the most amusing. At the vernissage of the multiple and imperceptibly different views of the sky over Shanghai, many were present – including the Raphas – but the twins didn't bother to show.
We can't really be sure how many of the scenes in the house actually occurred, especially as we move into revisions and running commentary that translates as out-of-place characters walking into the scene. Enough happened, I suppose, to turn Rapha fils against his new friend, and maybe more importantly against his teacher.
Things don't end well. The Raphas likely return to their middle-class normality (which would be a tragedy for anyone else), the teacher and his wife end jobless and apart. And Claude, well he seems as amused as ever, observer and manipulator of lives around him.