For the majority of Francois Ożon’s latest picture, I was unsure if the director was trying to shock me or force me to accept some absurd moments as normal. But I think this is also where the humour of the film lies. Not in its sensibilities as a sexually charged thriller of sorts, but rather in its ability to blend both the most darkly cynical situations and light-hearted humour- a risk rarely taken in comedy.
It is considered more admirable that its director achieved a film measured so evenly in its approach to story and genre, never crossing the line until cresting at its end evenly. Ozon shows both intelligence and awareness to his characters during the course of the picture. The main character Claire, who discovers David’s secret for herself, never once acts irrationally or in a way that struck me as overly presiding.
Now Some Like It Hot this isn’t in its approach to cross-dressing, but at the same time The New Girlfriend does not let itself become a movie solely about the aftermath of a death. Instead it extends further, examining the relationship of Claire and her own husband Giles. Roman Duris’ David however steals the show, not just because he has the most to do. Taking an already challenging role and playing it with such grief deserves commendation.
It is a shame that this picture will have no hope of seeing a wide release across the UK, but this also comes as little surprise. A French film about a love triangle involving a cross-dressing widower is unlikely to veer the public away from Jurassic World and the like. The truth is, that for all the film’s arthouse tendencies, it is most likely to be forgotten in a high octane year for cinema both in the arthouse and the multiplex.
Why? Because it is a solid film and nothing more, a nice way to spend 108 minutes. Nothing is left after leaving the cinema other than the knowledge of having seen a good film. Ozon’s biggest risk is in the premise of film, the storytelling adopted plays out like a sequence of events, nothing more than a simple cause and effect story and for all her strengths as a character, Anais Demoustier’s Claire simply fails to have the dimensions for the audience to be truly invested in her. So The New Girlfriend is a good film, but that and unfortunately nothing really more.