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Even at its most outrageous and melodramatic, it's still intriguing, with the able cast negotiating the many layers to their characters nimbly.
I regret that I watched this movie. It was a complete waste of time. There was nothing in this work of "art". Actually the modern "new wave" cinema is trying so hard to be diverse and inclusive that it is becoming boring, no fresh ideas, no new inventions that the real New Wave cinema was so rich with. Now it's all about agenda.
Good but far from anyone's best work; stuck between a twist that comes far too early and a somewhat unlikely ending, but nonetheless manages to chug along on the strength of the inputs.
Taking cues from the more understated works of Pedro Almodóvar and the more restrained undertakings of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, François Ozon's "The New Girlfriend" (2014), an effortlessly entertaining examination of the intricacies of gender identity, is a beaut of a black comedy that manages to both be scrumptiously operatic and mysteriously unnerving.
The film stars the tenably fragile Anaïs Demoustier as Claire, a young housewife slowly recuperating from the recent death of her best friend, Laura (Isild Le Besco). Feeling socially hopeless and oddly guilty - she figures it unfair that she, childless, should live, while Laura, who recently gave birth, should be the one to go - Claire's not sure what direction she'd like her life to go in next. Her husband, Gilles (Raphaël Peronnaz, making the most of a seemingly gutless role), is abidingly supportive, but as it goes for most women living with vaguely handsome men additionally married to their job, there's a facet that's missing from their union that makes it even harder to recover.
While out jogging one morning, Claire decides to stop by Laura's house to check in on her husband, David (an excellent Roman Duris), who, like Claire, has been struggling in the moving on with his life. But what was supposed to be a harmless visit turns into something more when Claire walks in on David feeding his child - dressed as a woman.
Initially, her reaction is disgust, despite David's assurances that his crossdressing is merely a way for him to destress and that Laura knew full well of the pastime before they got married. But after she takes the time to process does she find herself intrigued by the secret aspect of David's identity, looking to help him in exploring it more comprehensively. Before long are she and David - who comes to start to prefer his female alter ego, Virginia - inseparable, spending afternoons shopping and weekends out in the country. But all the time spent helping her new best friend come to terms with his preference for the female gender is she also dramatically affected, realizing things about her own sexuality she might have never thought were waiting to be investigated within her.
Coming from an inexperienced director might "The New Girlfriend" have become a missed opportunity, ruined by potential insensitivity or a tonal error to derail the convincing relationships that rest at the film's center. But because the movie is written and directed by François Ozon, the adaptable artiste behind "Swimming Pool" (2003) and "In the House" (2012), "The New Girlfriend" is a note perfect study of the intricacies that rest between friendship, romance, transformation, and sex. Detailed in its characterizations and tightly in control of its tizzy of tones - mostly high strung melodrama combined with Hitchcockian tension - not a moment is inhibited by a line, a scene, that doesn't work. Everything about it blends together just right, and that 's certainly an effect of Ozon's self-possession behind the camera and his marked analyzations of the recurrences that often make way in human nature.
This isn't the first time Ozon has traveled down the complex roads of sexual identity - his Wikipedia page has an entire section dedicated to the number of his films dealing with the many shades of sexuality - and that's perhaps a testament as to why "The New Girlfriend" works so well. This is difficult material to portray with believability, and yet Ozon finds a deft balance between soufflé lightness and stunning clarity. Incredible how the film's so sensitive and attentive toward its topic but is also so blithely engaging. This is a masterpiece that doesn't so much feel like one because its brilliance is so offhanded - it's cinematic sagaciousness disguised as popcorn entertainment.
Another sexually brash, campy and twisted Oedipus Complex tale of sorts from provocateur Francois Ozon.
Yet another great French film.....
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...
Interesting, and very contemporary, themes, but doesn't quite hit the mark. The "secret" and its consequences were very intriguing and director Francois Ozon developed the theme well. We see how Claire adapts to it, welcomes it and even likes and encourages it. We also see David turn from regarding it as something to be hidden to something to be celebrated.
So far, so good. However, from a point Ozon doesn't know where to go with this and how to wrap it all up. We have a few false starts and red herrings.
The conclusion is a bit too neat and isn't entirely consistent with what went before. While incredibly novel, and even a bit funny, it massively oversimplifies the issues and ideas that were raised in the movie. It also feels rushed. After slowly and methodically developing the themes in the first 2/3rds of the movie, we skip some necessary plot development and get straight to the ending.
Ultimately, so-so, on the margin between okay and meh.
cinegeek.de Mit Elementen der romantischen Komödie, des Melodrams und auch des Thrillers ist Francois Ozons neuer Film so etwas wie ein Drahtseilakt des Kinos geworden! Der kleinste Schritt daneben, könnte das ganze Kunstgebilde zerstören! Was in weniger fähigenden Händen zum totalen Albtraum missraten würde, vollbringt Ozon mit seiner berühmten Leichtigkeit. Claire (AnaÏs Demoustier) erzählt uns die Geschichte einer zwanzigjährigen Freundschaft zu Laura (Isild Le Besco). Immer stand sie im Schatten der strahlenden Blondine, doch die Verbindung überstand die Adoleszenz und auch eine Hochzeit. Eine Liebesgeschichte. Hier reiht sich der Witwer David (Romain Duris) ein, den Claire beim Rollenspeil überrascht. David will eine liebende Mutter darstellen. Mit ihrer Hilfe wird er die Welt des Shoppings und der weiblichen Freuden entdecken. Dieser Mann findet sein Glück in einer Frauenrolle und heisst nun Virginia. Für beide, Claire und Virginia, beginnt ein neues Leben, eine neue Freundschaft (obwohl Claire die Existenz Virginias verheimlicht...). Im Grunde hat Francois Ozon hier sein Spiegelbild geschaffen: Die Vorzüge von Mann und Frau in einer Person vereint. Ozon bleibt einer der kühnsten Filmemacher, besonders, wenn er sich der Sexualität von Frau und Mann annimmt. Mit Une Nouvelle Amie befindet er sich auf der Höhe seines Könnens und wird jedes Publikum intrigieren und begeistern! mehr auf cinegeek.de
A witty yet delicate and at some point strong approach to self-discovery and embracing one's true utmost inner identity as well as courage to accept one's desires without prejudice. Cried towards the end - tear-jerker alert!
Interesting movie. Only the french would develop such a plot line.