Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ozon's HIDEAWAY with Isabelle Carré: Is one of our favorite movie-makers vamping?

The unusual tale that François Ozon -- working once again in "slight" mode but with weighty themes -- has chosen to tell in his latest work HIDEAWAY (Le refuge) could easily lead, down the road, to the scenario found in numerous other films about parenting in our modern times. His new film tells of a wealthy and dissolute young man (played by Ozon irregular Melvil Poupaud, shown at bottom, left), his drug-addicted paramour, and his frigid family -- with the exception of one sweet and caring brother. The big event here happens early on, and the remainder of the movie is taken up with the adjustment to said event by the remaining characters.

Ozon, shown at left, a popular-on-the-festival-circuit and sometimes very fine director (the recent Ricky, Time to Leave, 5X2 among other films) here glides along the surface of things, showing us character traits and small situations/events that are interesting, sometimes fun and occasionally meaningful. All this leads to a surprising but believable conclusion and yet the film does not carry the weight necessary to make that conclusion as meaningful or moving as it ought to be. We buy it, but we want more.

Fortunately the writer/director has assembled a good cast led by the ever-expanding Isabelle Carré (Les Sentiments, French Gigolo), who here plays a drug-addicted good-time girl named Mousse who suddenly confronts a life-changing situation. The well-off family she has fucked herself into includes a cold mother, distant dad and kind brother (Louis-Ronan Choisy, below) and then, via one of those too-good-to-be-true situations, she ends up in in a fabulous house by the beach (the seashore is clearly this director's favorite location).  It's all lovely to watch and relax into, with an attractive and on-the-mark cast, while the finale provides ample food for thought. And Ms Carré's rich performance -- alternately angry, warm, distant, mercurial and intelligent -- helps ground the movie, which is almost unthinkable without her presence.

Yet, given all that's going on here, the result seems somehow slight. But beautiful. As it's also Ozon, you probably won't want to miss it.  I certainly wouldn't have.

Hideaway opens in New York City at the Angelika Film Center this Friday, September 10, then in Los Angeles on September 17 at Laemmle's Sunset 5, Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5,  and at Edwards' Westpark 8 -- followed by a limited, nationwide roll-out.

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