To start a film with a dead body is an audacious choice, typically reserved for pulpy murder mysteries or stories about, well, death. Une Nouvelle Amie, the latest effort from François Ozon, purports to be the latter while remaining something squarely its own through the French filmmaker’s hallmark playful dissection.
Isild Le Besco is Laura, the deceased in question. Ozon’s camera remembers Laura in a montage of looks and glances, crafting a thesis of close-up reaction shots that will echo through the entire film as her grieving husband David (Romain Duris) and lifelong friend Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) realize the profundity of her absence.
The eccentricities of latent desire are ground well trodden by Ozon, as evidenced by the apocryphal voyeurism of Dans La Maison (2012) and the Buñuelian casual prostitution of Jeune & Jolie (2013), the two films directly preceding Une Nouvelle Amie. For his characters, self-discovery always brings with it an element of sexual intrigue – whether implicit or explicit. By framing the explorations of David and Claire in the concepts of loss and remembrance, Ozon grounds complex notions in something inherently accessible.
The film is tonally scattered at times, but contains the empathy and winking humor that Ozon weaves throughout his best films. Presentation and body language take center focus on the screen, supported by adept cinematography and two completely endearing lead performances. Through all, omnipresent memory of Laura makes one thing clear: a girl may only live once, but love never dies.
The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.