Friday, July 01, 2016

Review of 'The New Girlfriend'

An unusual French film about the relationship between a young French woman and the cross-dressing widower of her lifelong best friend. He reveals his secret to her, and they develop a friendship that starts with her taking him shopping and then deepens into something more.

An element that isn't explicit, but nevertheless felt very strong to me, is the extent to which the man's behaviour and desire is narcissistic. He isn't gay - he doesn't want to be a woman. He loves his deceased wife's friend as a woman, and wants to have heterosexual sex with her while dressed as a woman. I think he is really in love with himself as a woman - while she is in love with him as a woman, though a sort of acceptable man-woman, because she's not really gay either, though she's sort of thought about it. She has dreams about loving her dead friend (while she's asleep in her childhood bed in the family's country house), and she flirts with a young lesbian at the gay club to which she takes her cross-dressing friend.

Beautifully shot, with lots of lovely clothes and interiors, and nice stuff. The woman and her blank husband, who barely notices what's going on, are French yuppies. The dead woman, and her family, seem to be Catholic provincial haute bourgeoisie, though I  suspect there are other markers that would situate them more precisely to a French viewer.

It's based on a Ruth Rendell short story, which I must read.

Watched at the Landsdowne Film Club in Stroud - sparsely attended, with everyone giving each other odd looks when it finished.

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