Friday, February 11, 2011

DVD Spotlight | "Hideaway (Le Refuge)"

The premise of Francois Ozon's Hideaway (Le Refuge) is one I found all too familiar.

Mousse (Isabelle Carré) and Louis (Melvil Poupaud) are lovers. However, their love is expressed more through the drugs they inject themselves with together than through real feeling, and the film opens with Louis shooting up a fatal dose of heroin laced with Valium. Mousse is left alone and near death.

When she awakes from her drug induced coma, she is informed that she is, in fact, pregnant with Louis' child. At first uncertain of what to do, she is advised by Louis' family to have it aborted, as they do not want Louis to have a descendent since he is no longer alive. Mousse has other plans, and runs away to the country to have the child on her own.

She is followed by Louis' gay brother, Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy), who only intends to stay for a few days. But as they days turn into weeks, the two find in each other something they never expected, and forge an unusual and unexpected relationship that could change them both forever.

Melvil Poupaud and Isabelle Carre in Francois Ozon's HIDEAWAY (LE REFUGE). Courtesy of Strand Releasing.

It's a tired premise, and one that feels incredibly forced. Nothing about it feels natural or honest. The characters feel less like fully fleshed out personalities than pawns created to advance plot points. The decisions they make never seem particularly consistent with a strong character, rather they feel like decisions made by a writer needing to get to a certain place in the story. The result are characters who are more patchwork quilts than people, and the film suffers for it.

To his credit, Ozon does create an intoxicating atmosphere. Hideaway never feels like a bad film, it just doesn't feel like it goes anywhere. It is just as lost and adrift as the characters it chronicles, never coming together into a satisfying whole, and culminating in a set of circumstances that just doesn't jel with the rest of the film or the characters it has attempted to establish.

Ozon may work a little of his magic with his deliberate pacing and use of music, but the final result comes up short. Hideaway just doesn't add up.

GRADE - ★★ (out of four)

HIDEAWAY (LE REFUGE) | Directed by Francois Ozon | Stars Isabelle Carré, Louis-Ronan Choisy, Melvil Poupaud | Not rated | In French/English subtitles | Now available on DVD from Strand Releasing.

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