Finding refuge in each other
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, September 10, 2010
Sometimes a movie makes a point that's been made before, but makes it so beautifully and so quietly that it feels like you're discovering it for the first time. "Hideaway" does that, with the obliqueness of an off-hand comment. The glancing touch makes it all the more hard-hitting.
The French drama, from writer-director François Ozon ("Swimming Pool"), centers on Mousse (Isabelle Carré), a young, drug-addicted woman who discovers she's pregnant in the film's opening minutes. Louis (Melvil Poupaud), the father of her unborn child, has just died, the victim of a drug overdose.
Fast-forward several months. Now on methadone to stave off withdrawal, Mousse has retreated to a house in a sleepy seaside village -- the hideaway of the title -- to have her baby, away from the prying eyes and moral judgments of society. While there, she gets a visit from Paul, Louis's gay brother (singer Louis-Ronan Choisy, making an auspicious screen debut). He decides to stay awhile.
Maybe it's the baby, who connects the two of them in a way that neither one can articulate. For whatever reason, they are drawn together. After some initial prickliness, they end up spending much of the summer -- and the movie -- talking about things large and small. Not just Louis's death and the new life that Mousse is carrying within her, but revealing things about themselves. Paul tells Mousse that he was adopted and that he's always felt Louis resented him for that. Mousse announces that the house they're staying in belongs to an older man she once slept with, at the age of 16. She isn't sure, but she thinks that man may be her father.
In short, they come to know -- and in a surprising way love -- each other. But it's more than that. They also come to represent a new kind of family for each other, an especially important refuge for both Paul and Mousse, each of whom feels a bit lost, for obvious reasons.
The film's French title, in fact, is "Le Refuge." There's a sense that what these characters are seeking is not just a hideaway, but a port in the storm. How -- and in whom -- they find it, in the movie's touching twist ending, is both unexpected and unavoidable.
Which brings me to the point that Ozon's film is trying to make. It's this: The hideaway, or home, that each of us is looking for on the road of life isn't a place after all. It's other people.
Contains drug use, obscenity, sensuality, nudity and alcohol consumption by an expectant mother. In French with English subtitles.