Movies: Le Refuge * * *
(16, Limited Release)
While its slow pace and uncertain dramatic energy might not be for everyone, François Ozon's typically thoughtful and melancholy drama Le Refuge does pull a few surprises, and after a grim start turns into a totally different film that you might not initially have expected.
Isabelle Carré plays Mousse, a pretty young Parisienne who shares a serious heroin habit with her boyfriend, Louis (Melvil Poupaud). After they shoot up smack contaminated with valium, Louis dies and Mousse is left seriously ill in hospital. When she recovers, she discovers she's pregnant and, after Louis's funeral, she has a chilly encounter with his grieving mother.
It turns out Louis came from a wealthy and well-connected bourgeois family, who have heard that Mousse is pregnant. With restrained but visible disdain, the mother tells her she should abort the child and coldly offers the services of her own doctor.
Mousse seems compliant but subsequently flees to a friend's house in southwest France, where she hides from the world and decides to keep the baby. She is surprised when Louis's brother Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy) comes to visit, and suspects he's come to check up on her. But she soon finds out that Paul has no hidden agenda, and seems as lost and confused as she is.
Mousse is a tricky customer, chippy and suspicious, but gradually she and Paul develop a tentative understanding. And though he's gay, they seem to be attracted to one another.
François Ozon is a fine, unfussy filmmaker and his script here is as terse and economical as the subject demands. Mousse and Paul's relationship unfolds gently and nothing is forced. And while it could be argued that we don't really find out enough about either of them for the film to be truly satisfying, both Carré and Choisy are very convincing in their troubled roles.