The New Girlfriend
Directed and written by Francois Ozon, based on the Ruth Rendell short story, The New Girlfriend. Cert. 15. 1hr 45min.
Romain Duris, Anais Demoustier, Raphael Personnaz, Isild Le Besco, Aurore Clement, Jean-Claude Bolle Reddat, Bruno Perard, Claudine Chatel, Anita Gillier, Alex Fondja, Zita Hanrot
Along with Lucie the baby.
The acting skills of Romain Duris as David and Anais Demoustier as Claire play deliciously on relationships in this bizarre interweaving nuanced adaption of a Ruth Rendell story.
It is a rendition sparkling with conundrums with a scenario well crafted in a script by director Francois Ozon who ran this out at Toronto Film Festival having filmed it largely in the ostrich of a place I think of as Canada.
It is an Ostrich given its unmissable brazen hussyness trying hard not to be a part of the world of politics but throwing up many creative folk who themselves struggle and have issues with having their talent on display.
There is a secret which unfolds and I do not give it away here. Suffice to say it carries forward the whole tale as it unfolds from early doors. No it’s not about doors. Inferences, shiny houses, outer space etc. They are not to be found here in narrative rebelling or in implied allegory. The story even is as I say indifferently Canadian for some
Not the greatest analogy but Canada works here.
There are things creative and hidden here. There is a waspishness of getting on with life, what concern is my real life to you anyway.
Opening with the names of the principals, the titles reveal, across the sound of solemn Church Bells then the familar Wedding March played on a Church organ we see this is closure of a young woman’s life we are witnessing.
The reading in the Church, all dark, small aisle, black and white tiles, is given by Claire played by Anais Demoustier who has seen a childhood friend taken away. She tells the gathering of Laura, the posthumous Isild Le Besco appearing throughout in flashback how each vowed from the beginning of their teens to look out for each other. A flashback showing the boyish, bond of blood ute into their palms and co-mingling as a symbol of that vow.
This is told within the first five minutes by this stylish outré vision as is the dynamic sought by Ozon for our entertainment.
Cleverly he takes away our expectations from early on and substitutes a reality which we have to adjust to. An adjustment mainly concerning in effect the woman Claire is. She has a relatively normal well heeled life with an affectionate husband whose love is unremitting and their communications verbal non verbal and physically in love are attuned to a point where they find small things create a needed frisson as time moves on.
Claire has a rediscover of her latent sexuality and it helps fasten her to her ever trusting husband Gilles (Raphael Personnaz) his job though seems to become a third part of their marriage, less so Claire who does not seem to possess either career ambition or child bearing needs.
Centrally the sweeping intro off the setting of Canadian everyland, with two childhood friends gets subverted when her vow becomes the demanding element of her life.
Romain Duris as I said at the outset is part of the mix in delectable relationships as his adjustment to loss is felt even greater than Laura’s and Gilles is sympathetic to her taking on a role of nursing the now reclusive David (Romain Duris) back to himself and through the intense trauma of the loss of Laura. Romain has become a one parent family and his sole helper is the Godmother with the blessing of the grieving parents who have be-quested their wealth in trust for Lucie, the child born to Laura shortly before her passing. They convey the family aspect this film needs as a core focus of expectations.
Romain and Anais are in roles never expected and each produce extraordinary, and that is not too bold a description as they convey the sexual pull and temptations across their intersecting lives.
The Ozon skill is finding normal setting to set in place the characters conditions of bringing up baby.
The baby Lucie has a comment or sense of who she belongs too and in six months the tables turn and the story develops beautifully.
Gilles is in a place where he accepts there is a faith which he has to hold onto with his wife and he does this fully and trustingly.
Away from it all
On a weekend away, for Romain’s second outing with Laura for the sake of his recovery they go to the former mansion where Laura and Claire first met and became friends.
The score is very subtle but it becomes shades of Fredrick Astons Month in the Country with its bliss laden odd beauty. A superb new soprano is given full tilt on our senses and it conjures for us the pleasure of escapism of a kind rarely found or encountered except through the company being perfectly attuned.
The cinematography utilizes the ordinary of Canada and the luxury of Coco Chanel interiors and bizarrely Canadian lifestyle furniture.
It is also extraordinary when the faces, bodies are framed with the costume, under and over exchange community. The revealed flesh is formed in portraiture and sex where found is rhythmically honed to push the buttons of the observer of these lithe bodies.
Not an unfit figure to be seen. Even extras are fit. The drama is perturbing and heart felt as it develops. This is a film held in the characterisations of the three main actors. Romain is adept and convincing while Anais holds the viewer in closest to the Ozon imagined personas. She makes it believable most. Raphael is limited to being a supporting voice but his necessarily under developed role is dealt with as all in customarily intelligence in this ensemble of relationships fashioning of self along with many questions of how many times life produces challenges of ground breaking change.
I love the film throughout for it thoroughness in being firstly French and its complex tale in a setting which ought not to deliver its story yet does with exemplary aplomb. Ozon likes people and likes their dependencies.
He gets the story at about the right level and without over doing it; it has plenty of humour, he makes good humanity’s wider expanses.
It is quite masterly and will become a revisit movie. It will allow watching from time to time as a weathervane. It need not educate but will provide a locality for the freedom to never judge others choices.
Et to see it soon in order you can see it again if you so wish before the end of this new run.
19 May 2015
See at QFT from this Friday 20 May 2015
Until it closes on Thursday 28 May 2015.
Go see it is very good melodramatic and idiosyncratic as well as extremely well made!
Might encourage you to go again!
Camera (color, widescreen), Pascal Marti; editor, Laure Gardette; music, Philippe Rombi; production designer, Michel Barthelemy; costume designer, Pascaline Chavanne; sound, Guillaume Sciama, Benoit Hillebrant, Jean-Paul Hurier; re-recording mixer, Jean-Paul Hurier; assistant director, Arnaud Esterez; casting, Antoinette Boulat.