The Brag

[Sydney Film Festival 2010] Film Review: The Refuge

In Arts, Film Reviews, Sydney Film Festival 2010 on June 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

The Refuge/Le Refuge (FRANCE)
Next screening: Monday June 7 / 4:30pm / State Theatre

François Ozon’s (The Swimming Pool, 8 Women) latest film is a beautifully subtle character piece. The unsentimental set-up is an almost perfect beginning for the film, which languidly unfolds around a delicate friendship between pregnant Mousse (Isabelle Carré) and Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy), her dead boyfriend’s brother.

With a relaxed and non-judgemental eye, Ozon’s film explores themes of loss and rehabilitation through his central characters. Their back stories are limited, Mousse has obviously had an unconventional life, Paul is an outsider in a rich family. Their emotional connection is both detrimental and empowering. They could be good for each other, but are they too damaged to give each other the support they so desperately need?

Carré plays Mousse with a charming vulnerability and a lack of self-consciousness, a woman who kept her unplanned pregnancy out of curiosity. Choisy as Paul is quite literally gorgeous on screen, embodying compassion and confusion. With captivatingly understated and nuanced performances, these actors allow their characters to develop on screen, not wringing emotion out of what could be have been melodramatic roles.

Set mainly in a picturesque seaside village on France’s south coast, this film is a Gaelic gem. Not overpowering, the filmmakers pull few strings and refrain from manipulating their audience’s emotions. Le Refuge has a lovely dreamy quality, enhanced by strong performances and a simple but beautiful script, co-written by Ozon and Mathieu Hippeau. [BW]


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