Sitcom

The Turkish and American sitcoms monopolizing our image-based world today have a major characteristic in common with the Turkish soaps that have all of us hooked, men and women alike: sexist conservatism. They ditch the truth in favour of dishing up their own anodyne virtual realities. The soaps offer us a patriarchal background suffused with upper-middle class family norms and 21st century neo-liberal consumer habits (must-haves for every “middle class” family include a couple of SUVs, detached villa-style houses etc). It isn’t that this world is devoid of sexuality. Rather, we are served up largely sex-less but “sexy” heterosexual gender roles or complex family relationships, which manage to win our approval without causing “excessive discomfort”. Ozon’s Sitcom subverts the familiar, heterosexual middle-class family of sitcom with heavy doses of black humour. And the red sitcom curtain goes up: father returns to his dreamy suburban house (the home turf of the middle-class sitcom family) to be greeted by a sweet birthday surprise from his family. And boom! This cosy family, created in the space of a minute, is wiped out in 30 seconds when father guns down every one of them. But don’t accuse me of having wrecked the film for you! The scene I’ve described takes up just two minutes at the beginning; it’s also merely one of many scenarios that detail the unravelling of our middle-class family. The laboratory rat that “father” brings home at the cost of “destroying” his own patriarchal hegemony (superego), unwittingly lays bare the subconscious desires of the entire family, father aside: and these are desires utterly incompatible with middle-class gender roles (homosexual, sadomasochistic and incestuous). The film offers no formulas to replace existing gender norms. Far from it, Ozon simply impresses on us that we should all go through the discomfort of locating our own “rats”, and having done so, to destroy them. Başak Tuğ

France
'
1998

Director
François Ozon

Script
François Ozon

Cinematography
Yorick Le Saux

Editing
Dominique Petrot

Production
Fidelite Productions

Cast
Adrien de Van
Évelyne Dandry
François Marthouret
Lucia Sanchez
Marina de Van
Stéphane Rideau

Music
Éric Neveux

Awards
Best Actress
Best Actress Sitges
Best Artistic Contribution Namur

Festivals
15th Festival on Wheels
AGAINST THE MOVIES