Sunday, September 26, 2010

HIDEAWAY (LE REFUGE) (2010)

Written by Francois Ozon & Mathieu Hippeau



Directed by Francois Ozon



Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA. September 18, 2010  7:45 PM



Francois Ozon, the French writer/director, is absolutely one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. He is responsible for such noteworthy films as "Criminal Lovers" (1999), "Under The Sand" (2000), "8 Femmes" (2002) and one of his biggest hits here in the U.S., "Swimming Pool" (2003). Like his Spanish counterpart, Almodovar, he is a gay man who is well known for his sharp wit, macabre sense of humor and sexually-charged features. His latest is, "Hideaway" which like his last few films, (also like Almodovar) continues to be more mature, subdued and reflective than we are used to seeing in his earlier work.

Mousse (Isabelle Carre) and Louis (Melvil Poupaud) are two young lovers who are also heroin addicts. After their dealer drops off the drugs, the couple shoots up and everything appears to fine. The next day, Louis's mother (Claire Vernet) enters the loft, unaware that the couple have been staying there, to show to a potential renter. She discovers her son, slumped over on the floor from a drug overdose. Later, Mousse awakens in the hospital, strapped to the bed. The doctor tells her that she is lucky to be alive since they were given a bad dose of the heroin but Louis did not survive. He also informs her that she is pregnant.

After Louis's funeral, his mother makes it clear that she does not want Mousse to keep this baby. At first, Mousse agrees with her but later she decides to get on methadone and have the child. She goes off to an acquaintance's deserted country home to have the baby in peace.

Months later, Louis' younger brother, Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy) pays Mousse a visit at the house. He is stopping on his way to a trip to Spain and wants to get to know her better. Since Louis was estranged from his family, she doesn't know any thing about them except that they are wealthy so she allows Paul to stay a few days. Since Paul is gay, she doesn't feel threatened by allowing a virtual stranger to stay at the house but she is also curious to find out more about him.

At first, Mousse is suspicious of Paul and his true motivation for this visit but soon she warms up to him. Since they both had Louis in common, through each other they discover things about him that they never knew. Mousse and Paul share meals together, hang out at the beach and Paul even takes her to a gay bar. They grow close and soon their friendship develops into something much deeper and intimate.

And that is pretty much the story and if it doesn't sound like much--well, it isn't. Although "Hideaway" is tastefully made and has nice performances from attractive actors, it never rises above a fairly routine drama. The dialogue is spare but unremarkable and it's not clear in what is trying to be said with this story. I know that as filmmakers get older, the need to be shocking and provocative tends to be curbed somewhat but this is one film that would have benefited greatly by Mr. Ozon going much darker and shoving some kinky sexuality in the faces of the audience. The only surprise twist in the film is an implausible action that occurs between two characters that almost completely ruined the film for me but I'll let it slide. I was looking forward to seeing "Hideaway" because I am such an admirer of  Mr. Ozon's work and although this film is a big disappointment to me, I am still very much a fan.