Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Le Refuge

Sometimes you don’t realise how many films of a particular director you have actually watched, 43-year-old French director Francois Ozon is a case in point. Having just watched his recently released movie Le Refuge (2009) I was prompted to look back on his previous movies.

Two short films come to mind A Summer Dress (1996), which is about a declining gay relationship that is refuelled in an unexpected way. The second short is also written by Ozon, the 1997 See the Sea which starred Sasha Hails as a young British mother living in a small seaside village on the French coast who takes in a homeless drifter, Marina de Van, while her husband is away on business. Most of his movies cover adult themes including sexual identity and gender. Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000) was no exception. Ozon’s screenplay is based on a Rainer Werner Fassbinder play and involves a witty look at sexual relationships, and stars Ludivine Sagnier. Released the same year Under the Sand a melancholy drama nominated for 8 awards and began a collaboration between the British actress Charlotte Rampling and Ozon. Rampling’s character loses her husband of 25 years while sunbathing on a beech. Not knowing whether he has drowned or walked out on her she pretends he is still alive. His biggest commercial success to date is 8 femmes (2002) starring some of the most beautiful female icons of French cinema including Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Fanny Ardent and Emmanuelle Beart. A musical murder mystery taking its inspiration from 1950’s Hollywood. In Swimming Pool (2003) Rampling plays a mystery author who travels to her publisher’s summerhouse for some peace and quiet to finish her latest novel, but she is not prepared for the unexpected arrival of his complicated teenage daughter. The director next movie 5x2 (2004) dissects a romance, moving backwards in time by depicting five key moments in the relationship, but interestingly in reverse order. Time to Leave (2005) centres on a young gay man dying of cancer who is unable to except his condition. Ozon’s first full English language film Angel (2007) was based on a novel by British writer Elizabeth Taylor and follows the story of a poor young girl who climbs up the Edwardian social ladder by writing popular pulp romance novels. This films biggest problem is that the main character is not at all likable; Angel Deverell is thoroughly obnoxious, arrogant, selfish and infuriating but played brilliantly by Romola Garai.

My latest Ozon indulgence is, Le Refuge a tender and unusual love story. Mousse and Louis are a young beautiful couple, rich and very much in love. One day they overdose and when Mousse eventually comes out of her coma she finds that Louis is dead and she is pregnant with his baby. Louis’s family wants nothing to do with her and tries to talk her into an abortion, an idea she immediately rejects. Mousse leaves Paris for an ex lovers empty house by the sea. Several months later Louis’s gay brother Paul joins her in her refuge. This excellent beautifully looking movie stars real life pregnant mother Isabelle Carre who gave birth to a son Antoine on 11th October 2008. Louis-Ronan Choisy, who also composed the wonderful original soundtrack, plays Louis’s brother Paul.

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