2009 // France // François Ozon // November 15, 2011 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
Call it the Gallic answer to the expectant mother melodrama. French writer-director François Ozon's undemanding Hideaway is a strangely standoffish and vacant object, out of tune with the warm, sun-drenched beaches of its rural setting. Following her trust-fund boyfriend's heroin overdose, the aimless, prickly Mousse (Isabelle Carré) discovers that she is carrying his child. For the duration of the pregnancy she withdraws to a seaside cottage, where her dead beau's gay brother Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy) appears at her puzzling invitation. The anticipated emotional twists ensue, as Mousse grapples with her evolving urges and her ambivalence towards parenthood, while Paul attempts to distract himself from the undeniable allure of his impending niece or nephew. While Ozon dapples his supple, attentive film with appealing moments of visual grace and raw emotion, the story proves to be thin stuff on which to hang a feature-length work. Frustratingly, both Mousse and Paul remain enigmas, and Ozon does little to develop any significant themes from their situation. The simple, swelling fact of the child and the characters' clashing, conflicted stance towards it (and each other) are not compelling enough in their own right to warrant our attention, beyond the benign human spectacle one can find in any soap opera.