Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original Title: Le Refuge
, . , , , , , , , , . Screenplay by , François Ozon. Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .
When he isn’t making slyly disturbing thrillers, Francois Ozon turns to melodrama and continues a series of films dealing with grief in this touching, emotionally poignant piece.
Lovers Mousse () and Louis ( ) are heroin addicts who overdose and are discovered by his aristocratic mother ( ), then days later Mousse wakes up from a coma in the hospital and learns that Louis has died and that she is pregnant with his child. At his funeral, Louis’s mother tells her that she’d rather she didn’t keep the baby and will help facilitate the abortion, to which Mousse verbally agrees before disappearing to a friend’s chalet on the coast.
Six months later, the late Louis’ brother Paul (pop singer Louis-Ronan Choisy, who also composed the film’s score) shows up and insinuates himself upon the happy and very pregnant loner, telling her he needs a place to stay for a few days before he goes on a planned trip to Spain. She maintains her hard edges around him while struggling to stay clean for the sake of the child growing inside her, while he enjoys the beaches and strikes up a love affair with Serge ( ), the man who runs her errands.
Eventually, the ice between Paul and Mousse begins to melt and a friendship and intimacy is struck up that sees them reach out to each other, inspired by the grief and longing for their missing family member that they cannot express in words.
Among the films that Ozon has made that have deceptively simple narratives, this one manages to make a deep impression, the nuanced performances and hot chemistry between all the actors allows us to enjoy every gradation of these relationships as they almost imperceptibly lose their fear of trusting each other.
It’s a shame that Ozon opts for a rather contrived sharp turn in the film’s final moments, as if afraid that a film so arresting needs a twist to make it feel worth the effort, when the emotional place that these characters come to after their dramatic, powerful interactions was already reward enough.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2009