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  • Hideaway (Le Refuge) | Review

    By | September 10, 2010

    Director: François Ozon

    Writer(s): Mathieu Hippeau (screenplay), François Ozon (screenplay)

    Starring: Isabelle Carré, Louis-Ronan Choisy, Pierre Louis-Callixte, Melvil Poupaud

    Very little is divulged about Louis (Melvil Poupaud), except that he is a heroin addict squatting in his family’s high-end apartment in Paris with his girlfriend Mousse (Isabelle Carré). When Louis and Mousse overdose on a stash of heroin laced with Valium, Louis dies and Mousse awakens from a coma in a hospital only to discover that she has Louis’ child inside her. Louis’ bourgeois and patriarchal parents expect Mousse to abort the pregnancy; instead, Mousse escapes to a tranquil seaside refuge.

    Louis’ sole sibling, Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy), arrives at Mousse’s hideaway on his way to Spain. Mousse suspects that Paul is gay, which it turns out, he really is. Their relationship is strained and restricted at first, but eventually Mousse and Paul develop a uniquely intimate friendship.

    Hideaway is a meditation on what the words “child” and “family” mean; it also normalizes the pregnancy of a drug addict (that is, in between slurping down doses of methadone). Hideaway is also about the role of memory in the healing of one’s body and soul — though Louis is dead, he is ever-present by way of photos, scents, and most of all, Mousse’s belly.

    Mousse’s pregnant belly is the star of the film; the child within is the only link between Mousse and Paul and the man they both loved (albeit in different ways): Louis. For Mousse, the pregnancy is a means of mourning the death of Louis (an event she feels at least partially responsible); she seems uninterested in establishing any sort of connection with the child within her and she all but condemns herself to solitude during the term of her pregnancy. Everyone wants to touch her belly and talk to the unborn child, but Mousse remains detached as if she is merely fulfilling her destiny to deliver Louis’ progeny to the world.

    Even though we follow Mousse rather closely for the extent of her pregnancy, we learn nothing of her past. Family or friends (except for the mention of a blind lover who has lent Mousse his vacation home) are never discussed. For us, Mousse is a pregnant recovering drug addict who is also a very strong and empowered woman, nothing more and nothing less.

    Shot during Carré’s actual pregnancy (with her son Antoine), Ozon’s (Swimming Pool) film is an intimate and naturalistic homage to Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales. Shot primarily in one location, very little happens. Most of the narrative revolves around Mousse and Paul’s conversations and the seemingly mundane and uneventful events that occur during Mousse’s pregnancy.

    Utilizing HD for the first time (due to a very limited production budget), Ozon opts for a style that is very unaffected and relaxed, granting Hideaway a very tender and peaceful air. Despite the intimacy of the story, Ozon’s camera remains relatively detached and avoids any directorial flourishes. Hideaway could very well be a documentary about an actual pregnancy, and being that Carré was actually pregnant, it kind of is.

    Rating: 7.5/10

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