François Ozon discusses 'Le Refuge'
The prolific French director discusses his new film, a drama about childbirth in which the lead actress is actually expecting
This feels like a return to familiar territory for you after ‘Ricky’, which was a strange fantasy about a baby who grows wings, and ‘Angel’, a period costume drama shot in the UK.
‘Yes, but I don’t have a logic or strategy, I just follow my instinct. There was this opportunity to film a real, pregnant actress, and I thought it would be amazing to make a film around a pregnancy. I took my chance, wrote a script very quickly and we did it.’
But it’s another contemporary, realist tale, very intimate, and concerned with death – a little like ‘Time to Leave’ or ‘Under the Sand’.
‘I realised the link with my other films during the edit, but not during the writing or shoot. I think I must have an obsession with death and mourning!’
Your lead actress was really pregnant. What challenges did that bring?
‘It was a challenge to the whole production because the insurers don’t want to finance a film with a pregnant woman because it’s dangerous! But we took the risk because the film was very low-budget and took only three weeks. The beginning and the end, when she’s not pregnant, were shot six months later. The only thing we shot with a fake belly was the scene in the nightclub – it was impossible for her to dance!’
Most filmmakers have to shoot with a prosthetic belly when depicting a pregnancy. It must have been a luxury to film a pregnant body.
‘I realised it was a gift that Isabelle gave me. I think she agreed because it was her first baby – she didn’t know what it was to be pregnant and to act. After the first few days she was tired and said: “I’m not sure I would have accepted if I knew how hard it would be.” My first choice was Ludivine Sagnier [‘Swimming Pool’], who was pregnant, but she was having her second child and was afraid. She said to me: “I know what it is to be an actress for you and to be pregnant, so I won’t do it.”’
Did Isabelle Carré have much time to think about it? You must have had to get going quickly.
‘Yes, but she is a very mature actress, there’s no confusion between her parts and her life. There was no confusion with her own pregnancy. She said she felt like other women who go on with work until the delivery of the baby. The only thing she asked was that the baby wouldn’t be a boy because she knew she was having a boy and didn’t want her son to think it was his story.’
There are moments in the film of people behaving oddly towards her – becoming aggressive or trying to seduce her. Were these stories told to you by pregnant women?
‘Yes, the scene on the beach came from chats with pregnant women who told me that often they feel hassled – everybody wants to touch you and give advice. The scene with the man was to play with the idea of sexuality and maternity. I wanted to surprise. I wanted people to fear a shocking sex scene which is actually quite sweet.’
You’re always dragging us back to the seaside with your films – ‘Swimming Pool’, ‘Under the Sand’, ‘5 x 2’, ‘Time to Leave’ and now ‘Le Refuge’…
‘This time it was not my choice! When Isabelle Carré agreed to do the film, she asked whether we could shoot in the south-west of France, where she was going to be on holiday, as she wanted to be close to the sea. At first I actually said that, for once, I wouldn’t film by the sea and would do something in the countryside, but I had no choice!’
Read our review of 'La Refuge'.
Author: Interview: Dave Calhoun
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’