It's been a while since I've watched a movie that was quite as
perplexingly pointless as Sitcom. This French film is labeled
a "dark comedy," but if the filmmakers were genuinely
trying to make a comedy, they ought to get a refresher course on the
concept of "humor," because if there's one word that I
wouldn't use to describe Sitcom, it's "funny."
The film opens up with a static shot of the exterior of a lovely
house. A man arrives and enters the house; we hear a chorus of "Happy
birthday" singing, which is abruptly cut short by gunshots,
presumably as the man kills everyone in the house. The film then
takes us to "several months earlier" where, presumably, we
will learn what events led up to this gruesome denouement.
It's kind of a stretch to see how this is going to be humorous, but
OK, it's dark comedy; we can run with it.
Unfortunately, Sitcom soon shows its true colors: it's
absurdity for its own sake. The film is a bizarre concoction of
senseless events and pointless surrealism. It doesn't appear to be
parodying anything; it doesn't seem to be making any sort of
statement with its surrealism; it just seems to be a nihilistic
exercise in bizarreness for its own sake.
The story centers around a rat that the father brings home one day.
As the various family members touch the rat, they're altered in some
way, making them behave in peculiar ways: sudden homosexuality for
the son, suicidal tendencies and a sadomasochistic fetish for the
daughter, incestuous impulses for the mother. And while I can't
reveal what happens to the father because it would constitute a
spoiler (if you have so much free time that you actually want to
waste some of it on this film), I can say that it is beyond bizarre.
You might ask (as I did) what the significance of the rat is. Well,
that's a good question, and one that's certainly not answered in the
film. My guess is that it's just one more pointless, weird element in
a film whose directorial slant seems to be "Weird stuff happens,
just because I'm making a film and I can throw in all the weird stuff
I want to!"
Even if you stand the increasing surrealism of the main plot, you'll
end up feeling cheated by the end, which plays out as if the director
had second thoughts about the way he was concluding the story, and
tacked on an additional segment to distract viewers from how utterly
ridiculous the whole thing was.
Sitcom is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer at
the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are handled well, looking bright and
clean; contrast is not so good, however, and dark areas tend to look
excessively dark, with detail getting lost. A few print flaws show
up, but the print as a whole is clean. The close-up shots look
reasonably sharp, but any middle- to long-distance shots are quite
soft and blurry.
Optional English subtitles are included.
The French Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is reasonable, providing a clean
overall sound with no distortion or background noise. The dialogue is
clear and understandable.
The main special feature here is a six-minute short film by director
François Ozon called "Photo
de Famille." It's a silent film that has as its premise an
apparently happy family being systematically murdered by one of its
members. On the one hand, it's completely pointless and repulsive; on
the other hand, it's quite revealing as to Ozon's obsessions as
played out in greater detail in Sitcom.
We also get a trailer for the film.
Surrealism and absurdity can be used to
great effect in film, but in Sitcom we get a glaring example
of bizarreness for its own sake. This story of familial murder and
sexual obsessions is billed as a dark comedy, but it's neither funny
nor interesting, and I advise that viewers stay far away from it.
Even at only an hour and 15 minutes of running time, it's still a
massive waste of time. Skip it.