Directed by: François Ozon | 107 minutes | drama | Actors: Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz, Isild Le Besco, Aurore Clément, Jean-Claude Bolle-Reddat, Bruno Pérard, Claudine Chatel, Anita Gillier, Alex Fondja, Zita Hanrot, Pierre Fabiani, Mayline Dubois, Anna Monedière, Brune Kalnykow, Joanie Tessier
‘A bit strange, but nice’ is the advertising slogan of a soft drink, but this could also apply to François Ozon films. Those who love it will also love the tragicomic fairy tale ‘Une nouvelle amie’, which looks a lot like an Almodóvar. Ozon has in common with his Spanish contemporary that he knows how to combine apparent nonchalance with elegance, and that gender issues are always on the agenda. With ‘Une nouvelle amie’ a Ruth Rendell adaptation can be added to that – after all, Almodóvar’s ‘Live Flesh’ was one too.
In this production adapted from Rendell’s thriller story ‘The New Girlfriend’, Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) gets the shock of her life when she finds David (Romain Duris), the attractive widower of her best friend Laura, in women’s clothes while he gives his daughter the bottle. . Having promised the deceased Laura to take care of the baby, Claire is attracted to the unusual situation and decides to keep it from partner Gilles.
The result is a mutual dependence that goes beyond friendship, we want to reveal that much more. In ‘Une nouvelle amie’, Ozon plays quasi-cheerfully with human emotions and moral views – another hobbyhorse of Almodóvar, by the way. How deep does it go? That remains guesswork for the viewer. Ozone may advocate gender-free love, but, like its protagonists, seems to be confused with the possibilities of human relationships. In addition, the cat-and-mouse game between the manipulative David and the hesitant Claire occasionally repeats itself.
Heart-throb Duris (‘Persécution’) may not be vile enough for his role either. The film is saved by Demoustier (‘Elles’) in his twenties, who convinces with an adult rendition for her age. Claire is the heart of the film, and perhaps playing a woman who is grieving, struggling with her feelings for men and wanting a child is just as difficult as playing a double-minded transvestite.