Le Refuge Movie Review
In a posh Paris apartment, Louis and Mousse (Poupaud and Carre) live in squalor, addicted to heroin. They overdose, end up in hospital and, when Mousse wakes up, her doctor surprises her with the news that she's eight weeks pregnant and alone. Louis' mother (Vernet) blames her for everything, so Mousse escapes to an isolated house on the coast. She's joined there by Louis' more sympathetic brother Paul (Choisy). And even though she knows that he's gay, she starts falling for him. Even when he hooks up with someone else (Louis-Calixte).
The film is directed in a minimal, contained style, quietly watching the characters and their interaction without over-explaining the straightforward plot. This makes the film feel a little aloof and simplistic as a result, but Ozon's sure-handed touch is delicate and telling. He is also gently exploring the politics of attraction and how difficult it is for us to control whom we fall in love with or where our lives take us.
The film has a quietly intense tone, mainly due to the understated strain between the characters as they learn more about each other. This gives the actors much more interesting material to work with than the usual romantic drama, as their attraction has to be tempered with the knowledge that they aren't likely to end up together. Carre and Choisy are terrific in the roles, and have a strong but intriguingly fragile chemistry.
In the end, the film is rather too vague to really resonate. In some ways, it feels like a 30-minute short stretched into a feature. But every scene is beautifully observant, and really catches the sense that we usually find peace in the most unexpected places. And we all need some way to escape from the grim reality of our lives if only for a little while, because it's the only way we will find the strength to face up to the facts.
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