Genre: Drama • Comedy
Director: François Ozon
Starring: Évelyne Dandry, François Marthouret, Marina de Van, Adrien de Van, Lucia Sanchez
Duration: 85 min.
The lives of a seemingly normal bourgeois family are turned upside down after the arrival of an innocent looking pet rat. Their twisted dysfunctional adventures begin with the younger brother's discovery of his homosexuality, the elder sister's suicide attempt and sado-masochist tendencies, and the intrusion of a very free-spirited maid and her husband.
Sitcom is the debut feature film written and directed by French filmmaker François Ozon. It premiered in the critics' week section of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
This is a bizarre and extremely perverse French take on the familiar well off perfect family frequently portrayed in American sitcoms. The very first scene shows the father (François Marthouret) returning home from work. While the camera remains outside with a stationary wide shot of the mansion, he enters and is greeted by his family who begin to sing Happy Birthday. Then immediately afterwards we hear the sounds of screams and gunshots as he presumably murders them on the spot. The rest of the film jumps back several months to tell us what events led us to that moment of carnage.
It's very similar to Todd Solondz' Happiness but because of its style and tone doesn't come off quite as disturbing even if the situations are much more depraved. There's a great performance from Évelyne Dandry as the mother, who tries to cure her son of his homosexuality by sleeping with him, and Marina de Van is fantastic as the suicidal daughter with S&M tendencies, pushing boundaries even further by sharing a nude bathing scene with real life brother Adrien de Van.
There's a twist at the end that spirals the whole thing beyond surreal, but I suppose there was no other way out of this story. Overall, this a curiously entertaining and thoroughly disgusting first feature from the prolific Ozon that might be just a little bit too much.
— Bonjour Tristesse