‘Based on a story by Ruth Rendell’, is not something you expect to read at the beginning of a François Ozon film. I’ve not read the book, but given Rendell’s normal output I’m guessing it’s very loosely based on a theme which Ozon himself has toyed with previously. The New Girlfriend focusses on the fact that human sexuality is not something set in stone, and our chemical make-up does not determine how we’ll feel for the rest of our lives.
Laura is dead. Her best friend Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) is completely torn apart by the tragedy, as is widower David (Romain Duris). Claire’s husband Gilles (Raphaël Personnaz) suggests she goes over to see if David and his young daughter are doing ok. On arrival she discovers him dressed in women’s clothes. He confides in her and she gradually comes to terms with the situation. As the pair become closer, their relationship begins to ignite feelings within her.
The New Girlfriend is a strange film in many ways. Whilst Ozon tackles an interesting and important subject, it never really quite clicks. I fell a bit in love with Claire, which is testament to the superb performance by Demoustier. She’s the highlight of every scene she’s in, and is in almost in every scene. Duris is sadly less convincing. However, The New Girlfriend is a refreshing take on relationship drama and Ozon’s humour is as biting as ever.
The New Girlfriend is in cinemas from Friday.