Une nouvelle amie



A woman disappears, only to reappear as someone else – that was a premise already explored in Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958). Ozon picks it up again ; this time with a transgender element. The husband (Romain Duris) takes the place of his dead wife (Isild Le Besco) by donning her clothes and a blonde wig, shifting from being their infant child’s father to mother. In this Hitchcockian drama laced with morbid eroticism, a young woman (Anaïs Demoustier), best friend of the deceased, is like James Stewart-Scottie in Hitchcock’s suspense film because she sees her own (suppressed, lesbian) desire awakened by Romain Duris’s transformation. Looking at the transformation of both sexual identity and sexual desire and with Nicole Croisille as an added bonus, François Ozon presents a troubling work that, nonetheless, has a very clear purpose. In fact, the strength of “The New Girlfriend” lies in not ceding even an inch on these radical themes : All the roles (gender, sexual), all the parts (father, mother) in this social construct called family are interchangeable, even though many would like to set them in stone forever – a legacy of the most obtuse kind of Catholicism. As prolific as he is talented, film-maker François Ozon brings us the sublime Anaïs Demoustier (Claire) in a highly-nuanced and extremely sensual role. In their own right, Raphaël Personnaz and Romain Duris are, in a very different way, stunning.



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