Edmond (Vadim Glowna) is a tortured old man. His dreams? "Toads . . . black dogs, and drowned corpses." So, off Edmond goes to a mysterious establishment run by Madame (Angela Winkler), where doped-out naked girls sleep peacefully through the night while you do whatever you want, as long as there's no penetration. In Edmond's case, this consists of unremittingly lugubrious soliloquies on topics like how one girl's nipples remind him of his mother's breast milk. Pseudo–Thomas Mann nuggets ("Nothing is more beautiful than the innocent face of a sleeping girl") are dropped with ponderous regularity. Writer-director Glowna knows how to frame a shot, but that's about it. The images are cluttered with overwrought symbols (Pegasus! The Virgin Mary!), and the story wastes a good metaphor. There should be plenty to say here about the need for tactile contact and how it can—or can't—be separated from emotional interaction; instead, Glowna goes for the relentless weight of old age and death. Laughably somber, House wants to be erotic, profound, and charged with David Lynch night terrors; instead, it's just one of the year's worst releases. A second viewing of Synecdoche would be less painful.
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