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Sitcom Review

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★★★★★

Picture, if you will, the prim facade of an idyllic French suburban home. Walking through its door, a middle-aged man is greeted inside (and offscreen) by a surprise party. As a cheery chorus of Happy Birthday fades, first shots, then screams are heard as he guns everyone down. Ozon's feature debut gets off to a promising start, gleefully kicking the crap out of nuclear family values and inflicting GBH on socio-sexual norms with a wildy anarchic, wickedly irreverent and mordantly funny bonhomie.

Rewinding the action, we discover the agent of this Bunuel-like chaos is none other than the newly arrived pet rat. Before long, anoraky son Nicolas (Adrien De Van) is transformed into a Gaultier-clad queen who snogs the maid's black hubby and conducts bedroom orgies; sibling Sophie (played by real life sister Marina) is left paralysed after inexplicably trying to commit suicide and gets down to some heavy duty S&M, while stoical mother (Dandry) provides a healthy dose of incest.

Having built up a tidy head of steam, Ozon has much iconoclastic fun toppling bourgeois totems and scoring comedic bull's-eyes by juxtaposing the numbingly ordinary with eye-popping absurdity but ultimately betrays his roots as a short filmmaker when his hotchpotch direction starts running out of track, ideas and gumption around the midway mark. While this means many of the later scenes have a pat, shock-for-shock's-sake feel and are bereft of the film's early piquancy, it's still worth going with the flow for as long as it lasts: even Angry-And-Disgusted-Of-Tunbridge-Wells would be hard pushed not to find something to laugh at in a movie that's just as about as left field as they get across the channel.

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