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Claire and Laura have been friends since primary school. Now, in their adult lives, with each happily married, to Gilles and David respectively, they are as close as ever. Then Laura dies after an illness and Claire's world is suddenly very empty. Being the godmother of Laura's child, Lucie, Claire visits David and Lucie, only to discover he has a startling secret...Written by
Crossdressing drama intrigues at times, falls flat at times
"The New Girlfriend" (2014 release from France; original title "Une nouvelle amie"; 107 min.) brings the story of David and close friends. As the movie opens, we see make up being applied to a woman's face, perhaps for a wedding? No! We are fooled as it turns out to be the woman's funeral. In a flashback we get to know that woman, Laura, and her BFF Claire. Laura ends up marrying David and Claire marries Gilles. Then, tragically, shortly after giving birth to a baby girl, Laura passes away. Claire promises at the funeral to help David and the baby. Shortly thereafter when Claire stops by David's house unexpectedly, she finds him in Laura's clothes, much to her shock. At this point we're at most 15 minutes into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from French director Francois Ozon, who previously has brought us such excellent movies as "In the House", "Potiche" and "Swimming Pooll". Here, he takes a short story (originally written by Ruth Rendall) and turns it into a feature length about the issue of crossdressing. As David explores his feminine side, Claire must decide whether to support him, and if so, to what extend could this throw a wrinkle into her own marriage to Gilles? At times the film succeeds, at times the film misses. The overall plot does seem a little light for a movie that goes for nearly 1 hr. 50 min. There are several notable performances, none more than of course Romain Duris as David (he was nominated for the French equivalent of the Oscar for Best Actor). Anaïs Demoustier as Claire is quite the revelation too (for me anyway). Notable is the excellent orchestral score, courtesy of French composer Philippe Rombi. There are also a number of song placements in the movie, including Katy Perry's "Hot + Cold", and, even more appropriate, Amanda Lear (with "Follow Me", playing in a nightclub scene), "Une nouvelle amie" was released over a year ago, and this weekend it showed up out of the blue at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati without any hype or advertising. Why now, I have no idea, but better late than never, I suppose. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great. As to the movie itself, I can't help but feel slightly disappointed, as I feel it doesn't measure up to the other movies I've seen from Francois Ozon. If you get a chance to check out "The New Girlfriend", be it in the theater, on VOD or on DVD/Blu-ray, I suggest you do and then draw your own conclusion.
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