Reviewed By Greg Muskewitz
Posted 11/28/00 21:11:10

"Ozon fashionably make his the end."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

I am beginning to be accustomed to François Ozon. Earlier this year two of his movies, “Criminal Lovers” and “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” were shown. Now come “Sitcom” (however, since they are all retrospective, I don’t know which came first and which followed). Getting adjusted to Ozon and acquainting yourself with his concoctions are odd enough. But three of his movies in the sum of two or three months are like one of those accelerated college courses. No time for breaks, no time for proper adjustment. No, you’re going to get it all at once.

Judging from those that I’ve seen, one deduction or assumption I can make, is that Ozon is gay. That being said, it’s for no other reason than the homosexual subject matter he incorporates. And another thing: he’s a tease. All three movies are to the brim with sexuality and similar themes, and each time, and consistently during these movies, he salaciously builds, and right when the overtones are about to climax, or spill, he cuts away. A dearth of nudity. In other words, he cuts around the corners of the sex. It’s actually kind of frustrating (a blue balls effect?) as he builds the audience to expect and want to see it, but Ozon only winks at you in a puppet-master-like scoff.

The story here is far more simplistic than “Lovers” or “Burning Rocks”: an average household family is shaken up when the lackadaisical father brings home a pet rat. Once the rat is permitted to “cleanse” or crawl on each family member, it allows them to participate in some extreme, hedonistic, fantasy-like action (very much Freudian). The son decides to be gay. The daughter attempts suicide, but becomes a paraplegic dominatrix (a startling image of Peter Seller’s Dr. Strangelove is present). The mother has sex with her son. The maid turns into a promiscuous sex toy/tramp. Her husband becomes a gay play toy, etc. And through all this, once they’ve been “infected,” they don’t care about anything. All this is introduced and executed with the attitude of a typical sitcom, like “Full House” or “Family Ties,” with that schadenfreude attitude thrown at it. “Sitcom” manages to be clever and lewd. The levity of the situations in the end result reiterate its plain-sighted goofiness. A harmless, though maybe somewhat offensive satirical spoof.

“Sitcom” takes awhile to get used to. At first it feels very serious minded, a stiff satire. But once you get used to Ozon’s flippant take and where he’s aiming at the television-oriented, it’s more appreciated. Once you (if you) can get past the abstinence of screen sex (nothing the “Disco Dolls” and “Lollipop Girls” 3-D erotica retrospective can’t cure), and his overly stationary camera (which renders some of the subtitles unreadable due to color contrasts), even though Ozon under-shoots the possibilities of his subject matter, it’s a minimalist adventure.

Final Verdict: B.

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