- 18 Aug 10
It may not belong in 'le refuse' but it does feel awfully like premature ejaculation
When François Ozon burst onto the scene in 1998 with the cutesy anti-bourgeois fable Sitcom, he was widely hailed as the saviour of French cinema. Here, we thought, was an openly gay filmmaker who wasn’t afraid to play with poly-sexuality, Douglas Sirk inspired kitsch and emotional pyrotechnics. But somewhere along the way, the filmmaker lost his mojo. Following on from the very ordinary Time To Leave and his underperforming English-language debut, Angel, Le Refuge is M. Ozon’s slightest work to date; even the so-so Swimming Pool looks deep (sorry!) by comparison.
A hasty doodle rather than a movie proper, Le Refuge kicks off with leading lady Mousse (Isabelle Carré) and her partner Louis (Melvin Poupaud) overdosing in their upmarket Parisian apartment. Louis dies but Mousse survives and learns she’s pregnant. The news is not greeted with any degree of enthusiasm by Louis’ wealthy parents who demand an abortion. Visibly rattled, our distressed heroine determines to keep the baby and legs it toward a quiet coastal abode where, several months later, Louis’ brother (Louis-Ronan Choisy) comes to visit.
Does this sound like a plot to you? No, we’re not buying either. Le Refuge is too contrived to make a psychological connection with anyone beyond the filmmaker’s hardcore fan base. The film’s junkie drama rhythms – vein in the arm is spent, discovery of methadone in the bathroom cabinet – have been played to much greater effect elsewhere. Worse, they undermine the project’s adherence to realist tropes.
Like Michael Winterbottom, Ozon’s equally prolific British equivalent, the unquestionably talented Gallic director needs to develop his material before he takes out his camera. Le Refuge may not belong in ‘le refuse’ but it does feel awfully like premature ejaculation.