François Ozon’s styles are many and his talent protean, but there is one theme that recurs: the will of a woman. From the individual protagonists of Sous le sable and Swimming Pool to the entire cast of 8 femmes, this French filmmaker revels in the force and range of female determination, whether or not its goal is admirable.
Le refuge begins in a chic Paris apartment, where Mousse (Isabelle Carré) and Louis (Melvil Poupaud) have fallen into a spiral of drugs. Rich and beautiful, they are clearly in love, but perhaps also doomed. The next morning, Louis is dead of an overdose and Mousse is unconscious. When his mother shows up shortly after, it is to show the apartment to a prospective tenant. She had no idea of the life her son was leading. Now that he’s dead, she’s left with his junkie girlfriend, who is pregnant with Louis’s baby.
Mousse is no bourgeois matron’s idea of a daughter-in-law, and before long she leaves Paris behind for a house near the sea. Against all advice, she decides to keep the baby.
Ozon is especially deft as he follows a woman who neither solicits nor deserves much sympathy. And yet, as he draws us closer to her, she does become fascinating. When Louis’s brother Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy) visits the country house, her reactions to him are anything but expected. In characteristic form, Ozon keeps us off balance, guessing whether Mousse and her dead boyfriend’s brother will become lovers, enemies or something else altogether. What’s clear is that Paul offers traces of his brother that intrigue Mousse as her pregnancy progresses.
A character study that builds its tension in measured scenes, Le Refuge carries the stamp of its auteur in its pursuit of uneasy situations and its focus on the absolute enigma of the protagonist. When she makes her final, decisive move, it is both a shock and the only thing she could have possibly done. —tiff.net
One of the most provocative and vibrant filmmakers to emerge during the 1990s, French director François Ozon has distinguished himself with dark, mordantly psychological films that draw their impact from Ozon’s frank and often disturbing explorations of transgression and sexuality. Combining wry humor, sensitivity, and subversive insight with a talent for manipulation, Ozon has earned comparisons to Hitchcock and Chabrol, directors whose works have provided ample inspiration for the young director as he has staked out his own, impressive territory in the cinema. Born in Paris in 1967, Ozon became interested in filmmaking at a young age. The son of bourgeois intellectuals, he was influenced by such Hollywood-based European directors as Hitchcock, Max Ophuls, and Jean Renoir, and also found great inspiration in the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder (one of Fassbinder’s early plays would later inspire Ozon’s Water Drops on Burning Rocks). After earning a master’s degree in cinema, Ozon… read more
The film's inconsistencies and ambiguities felt like an appropriate representation of loss and its disorientating impact. Things glide along in Ozon's usual hypnotic mood. Then he slips in some brief and strange moments: crazy beach lady, a prego-fetishizer, an awkward gay club scene, etc. Things don't line up monolithically. But it all seems fitting for such an unusual portrayal of motherhood.
Contrived drama about a pregnant woman who forges an unusual relationship with the gay brother of her dead boyfriend, who died of a sudden drug overdose. The characters are mostly inconsistent patchwork quilts meant more to further plot points than be fully fleshed out personalities.
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Le refuge 2009 François Ozon spins out this romantic tale of handsome sensitive souls drifting across a muted pastel landscape of exclusive beach property, engaged in delicate repartee… read review