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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars poetic, once you get past the beginning, 23 April 2014
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
This review is from: Le Refuge [DVD] (DVD)
Le Refuge is one of François Ozon's softer films, even though the shooting-up scenes make the first ten minutes somewhat squirm-inducing ... It's surprising because drugs don't usually feature in his work, and after that the film takes off on a much gentler note, coming more and more to be an exploration of an unexpected tenderness between a sort-of recovering drug-addict who is pregnant, and her dead lover's gay brother. Most of the delicately observed scenes take place in a house by the sea - really an idyllic summer setting; yet the observations of grief, affection and jealousy are astute if given with a poetic lightness of touch. Isabelle Carré is wonderful in the main role as Mousse, recalling Julianne Moore, perhaps, while having a presence all her own as well. Her face seems to suggest the character who is torn between many emotions and impulses, which are felt through her expressions in a state of suspension. Her situation could be heavy but she has a lightness - as her name suggests - that is a kind of grace, while not being above certain human failings as well. Louis-Ronan Choisy is also very good as the lover's brother, Paul, who also defies all the clichés, but has a wonderful gazelle-like sensitivity. A third figure then puts in an appearance, giving something of the feel of Jules et Jim, and focusing similarly on pioneers of the heart, but from a more modern perspective, and a quieter one. The figure of the lover, played by Melvil Poupaud who had been so good in the not dissimilar Time To Leave, hovers over proceedings, making it a most unusual quartet. Another paradox (there seem to be several) is that one of the best scenes is in a nightclub, with pounding music, yet conveying a sense of wonder and freedom; a rather lovely moment with a young man and Mousse takes a surprising turn, as does a scene with Marie Rivière on the beach earlier ... these things seem unfortunate, but the poetic embraces darker tinges and seems to integrate the scenes of the opening, to show that the vision of life is this wide. At the same time it rejects any sense of the practical, no one having any obvious sense of income or place in the world of work. Rather, the characters have a certain floating feeling, like four kites tracing arabesques on the lightest of breezes, that can sometimes turn into gusts or suddenly change direction, carrying them to some unexpected place in their configuration against the sky.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film and a great tribute to Eric Rohmer, 8 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Le Refuge [DVD] (DVD)
Francois Ozon is one of those miracles which comes along once in a lifetime. He has dominated the last decade of French cinema. He is like a rare French vintage wine, in this latest film, his taste is mature to its finest.

Do you remember the most hauntingly beautiful film back in 2000, Under the Sand starring with Charlotte Rampling? It's his masterpiece. That film dealt with bereavement and death. In this new film, Ozon deals with the theme of healing. It is an unforgettable film. You remember every scene, every word, every camera angle and every juxtaposition.

Ozon's art belongs to the canon of the French New Wave Cinema in particular the tradition of the late Eric Rohmer who died this year. I believe that Ozon pays a tribute to Rohmer with this film. Do you recognise the actress, Marie Rivière on the beach scene in this film? Marie Rivière plays the main character, Delphine in Rohmer's The Green Ray. Ozon's films are a lot more composed in terms of the storyline (it has beginning, the middle and the end). His choice of music in his film is always impeccable. Like Rohmer's characters in his film, Ozon's characters meet in a casual situation on a holiday, on a beach, on the train or at a friend's country house. This film reminded me of Rohmer's "The Green Ray" and "Pauline at the Beach".

Ozon is also a master of storytelling. In his 5x2, he tells the story backwards. My favourite also include Ozon's Collection of Short Films (available on DVD) which are more avant garde, visually poetic, haunting, insightful and charming.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birth and rebirth, 10 Sep 2010
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
This review is from: Le Refuge [DVD] (DVD)
François Ozon's intense dramas can be almost as puzzling as his seemingly rather more light-hearted entertainments. While those lighter films (Swimming Pool, Angel, 8 Women) do however reveal hidden layers of meaning if one is prepared to look beneath the surface, there doesn't seem to be much going on beyond quiet contemplation and inner desperation with his serious dramas of a lone person dealing with death and bereavement (Under The Sand, Time To Leave), or indeed much variety in the subject matter. Dealing with a young woman, Mousse, who has to make some difficult life decisions when her heroin addict boyfriend dies, leaving her alone and pregnant, Le Refuge fits comfortably at least into this category of serious Ozon films that look at life in the context of recent or imminent death.

Crucially however, once past the gruelling opening scenes of junkie hell, it's the notion of life, and specifically the potential for new life and rebirth (a subject that makes interesting parallels with Ozon's remarkably different treatment of it in his previous film Ricky) that is the factor that makes Le Refuge a little different, and perhaps more endurable than the rather darker depictions of death, family conflict and relationship horrors in his other "realist" films. Those subjects certainly crop-up here - Mousse having to contend with her dead boyfriend Louis' detestable rich family who want nothing to do with her pregnancy - but unexpectedly also through the reluctant and initially uncomfortable relationship that she strikes up with his adopted gay brother Paul. In Le Refuge however, the emphasis is not so much in coming to terms with reality, as coming to terms with oneself and refusing to submit to the traps or refuges - drugs, family - that prevent its characters from fully engaging with their true self.

That's a fine distinction, not one that really sets Le Refuge apart from Ozon's other films of this type, and it's not a particularly deep idea to grapple with in the absence of anything much else in the way of a plot. And yet, the film does manage to hold the viewer as these characters, each with very different worldviews, tentatively reach out to each other and find a way to move on. Much of this is down to a strong performance from Isabelle Carré, genuinely pregnant at the time of the making of the film, and the director takes full advantage of the fact, the swell of her belly and translucency of her skin becoming an object of fascination, something real and concrete and more than just a metaphor for Mousse's rebirth. Le Refuge might not be Ozon at his most provocative and daring (try Ricky, released on DVD at the same time as Le Refuge, for something a little more "out there", or 5 x 2 for its fascinating experiment with structure), but there are enough intriguing elements to consider here that are uniquely the director's own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Sep 2014
Lecaude (New-Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Le Refuge [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent A+++
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Le Refuge [DVD]
Le Refuge [DVD] by François Ozon (DVD - 2010)
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