The New Girlfriend

A young woman makes a surprising discovery about the husband of her late best friend.

François Ozon’s latest is an interesting examination of gender roles, seen through the prism of grief in this entertaining film starring Romain Duris and Anaïs Demoustier. The film begins with a montage that shows childhood friends Laura and Claire (Demoustier) growing up, meeting their future husbands and getting married, before it takes a darker turn as Laura sadly passes away. After Laura’s death, her widowed husband David (Duris) rarely leaves the house, spending all his time alone looking after their baby, when Claire is prompted to visit by her husband Gilles (Raphaël Personnaz). On her visit, she then discovers something quite unexpected about David.

As Claire starts to spend more time with David, the film playfully dances around the connotations for her relationship with Gilles. Is she cheating by spending time secretly with another man (albeit in a non-sexual way)? David undergoes the more drastic transformation but the more interesting psychological examination is of Claire, and how she is so willing to go along with everything the script throws her way. Ozon seems to be looking into the nature of Claire’s grief over losing her best friend and how she seems to gain comfort by spending more time in David’s company. The early stages of this burgeoning friendship are handled with a light touch, but things do move into darker territory when Claire starts to experience vivid dreams and moves to act on her baser impulses.

Whilst the plot itself requires a reasonable suspension of disbelief from the audience, it remains enjoyable due to the flair and fun in Ozon’s direction and in the performances from Duris and Demoustier. Duris and Demoustier have a playful rapport but they’re playing the characters completely straight and the film is the better for it, whilst Raphaël Personnaz provides solid support as Claire’s understanding but baffled husband. Following on from ‘In The House’ and ‘Jeune et Jolie’, ‘The New Girlfriend’ is another enjoyable film from François Ozon, and I’ll look forward to seeing what he can produce next.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: François Ozon

Starring: Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz, Isild Le Besco and Aurore Clément

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