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Mousse and Louis are young, beautiful, rich and in love. But drugs have invaded their lives. One day, they overdose and Louis dies. Mousse survives, but soon learns she's pregnant. Feeling lost, Mousse runs away to a house far from Paris. Several months later, Louis' brother joins her in her refuge. Written by
American Film Market
It's quite difficult to summarise what Le Refuge is about, there is a plot, it's linear, and quite simple, but there's nothing really generic in content, and it's not particularly dramatic either. Couldn't really call it anything other than an "emotion painting", beautifully shot, and well performed. The characters in the film are rather unlikeable, Mousse (Isabelle Carré) is a charismatic kidult heroin addict with a sharp tongue and propensity to sexual jealousy, unflappable Paul who somehow gets entangled with Mousse, has no sympathy with his brother's pained life and subsequent death. The background of high affluence that these two come from seems to be a seething psychological vipers nest from a wet dream of Freud.
The story regards Mousse who manages to survive her lover when they both tuck into a bad batch of heroin. She is pregnant and now on methadone, taking refuge at the coast in an acquaintance's deserted property. The extremely handsome and gay Paul (the brother of her lover) turns up, but is full of sangfroid to the gills and becomes an object of unattainable lust for Mousse.
One might say that the film is an unhaloed look at pregnancy. Mousse is fine with drinking alcohol and methadone for two, the film also looks at the erotic potential of the pregnant woman, as Mousse is propositioned by various men, and throughout she is quite unsentimental, as if she were a paid surrogate. I think that the camera-eye is not altogether disapproving, there is perhaps a feeling that in modern times preparations for a baby are preparations as if for the visit of a little emperor, with all the concomitant Freudian backlash.
It feels a little dirty sometimes that there are questions that only the viewer of the film knows the answer to, as opposed to the characters. The characters are left to wonder why, for example, did Louis die and Mousse survive? I think as well that there are things left to the viewer's imagination, for example the story of Louis and Paul's parents, which begs a whole film in itself; there's a kind of pendulosity to the suggestions there that really make the film feel like a masterpiece.
Visually I think there are some nice touches, this is the first time Ozon has filmed in digital, and he and the DP were playing around here. There's a psychological resonance when Mousse is at the beach on a bright summer day and a scene is played out with grafittoed breakwaters in the background that scream hazard as the water smashes into them. There's also a lovely shot at the beginning where a coruscating river reflects off a glass-fronted building.
It's ultimately an extremely winsome tale of fallible characters. I think the fallibility is extremely well portrayed, these characters are fallible just like pretty much everyone who'll be watching the film. So I give the film a lot of points for humanity, as well as, by the way, for not having an ounce of fat at 88 minutes.
For more excellent acting from Isabelle Carré in a "bad woman" role, you could do worse than watch Anna M. A note as well that this film could as seen a return to the aesthetics of Ozon's 52 minute thriller Regarde la mer, also about a disquieting movie starring a mother figure who frequents the French beaches.
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