A difficult one this. On the one hand, the less you know about Francois Ozon’s The New Girlfriend the better. On the other hand, it is impossible to talk about the themes in any detail without getting into major spoilers. I shall attempt the impossible and write a review anyway, in the hopes that those with a penchant for this kind of thing will give it a watch and those that don’t won’t.
Adapted from a Ruth Rendell story, the drama centres around recently widowed David (Roman Duris), whose best friend Claire (Anais Demoustier) promised his late wife Laura (Isild Le Besco – seen in flashbacks) that she would watch out for David and their baby girl Lucie just before she died. So one day Claire turns up at David’s house unannounced, and finds…
No, I really can’t say anymore as it would spoil the film, even though said incident occurs a mere ten minutes in. Suffice to say, David and Claire subsequently develop a highly unusual, intriguing relationship, much to the chagrin of Claire’s suspicious husband Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). Themes of identity, gender and sexuality crop up, and speaking of the latter this is a rather sexually explicit film. However, it is fair to say that the sex and nudity do actually advance the plot.
Beyond that I can’t really say a great deal more without spoiling the film. From a moral/spiritual perspective I personally I found the subject matter was tackled in a refreshingly non-judgemental manner, in spite of the issues I have with the ultimate outcome, about which I can’t say more here for fear of spoilers.
In short, The New Girlfriend is a well-acted, well-directed and challenging piece of work.