The New Girlfriend
Directed by Francois Ozon
HOME, 1 June 2015
It would be a trifle unfair to call this a chick flick with a transvestite, though that’s how I described it to a friend.
Indeed, David (or Virginia, played Romain Duris), being tall and slim, makes quite a convincing woman – when he remembers to shave, that is.
There’s a heavy silence during the funeral service as Claire (Anais Demoustier) describes her deep friendship with the dearly departed Laura, ending with the promise she made to watch over her widower and daughter. And Claire is true to her word, calling on the family unannounced: which is when she discovers David in Laura’s dress, bottle-feeding Lucie.
At this point, or shortly thereafter, a curious bond is formed: David wants or has inklings to be a woman. And Claire wants a new girlfriend in her life, someone to replace Laura in her affections. Who better than David? But despite shopping together and enjoying cakes and champagne, matters soon go awry…
This is an entertaining, intelligent, feel-good film; even though ‘intelligent’ and ‘feel-good’ may seem like contradictory terms when it comes to French cinema. I especially liked the way that David’s cross-dressing called into question Claire’s sexuality (is she gay?) as well as his own. Claire actually gives David the name of Virginia, she brings ‘her’ to life as much as he does. Maybe this is in the source text, a story by the late Ruth Rendell. It has a ‘Rendell’ feel to it, has something of her deep suspicion concerning human motives.