Tuesday, 14 October 2014

BFI Film Festival - The New Girlfriend

The festival has come and I'm a little sad. I'm not going to that many screenings this year and I am very tired all the time, the joy has been taken out of me - I blame working all hours of the night and day.

Anyhoo, on with the films!!!

My first screening was The New Girlfriend, being screened at Cine Lumiere, which I had never been too. Although I was stunned (in a good way) by the film, I was disappointed by the venue. 

A short walk away from South Kennsington, the cinema is the Institut Francais du Royaume-Uni and so the surrounding areas and places to go were French related. Great. No so great if you want to buy a simple coffee to enjoy with the film. Then, when I gave up running around in the rain and decided to buy an expensive tiny cup at the cinema, I was told no food or drink in the cinema. That's it I thought. I had been up since 4am, it was then 6pm, I needed caffeine. Luckily the film and its characters kept me awake.

Directed by François Ozon and starring Romain Duris, who seems to be in everything lately, and Anaïs Demoustier. After reading the description about the film in the catalogue, I decided not to read too much about the film. But the description about it being like a Douglas Sirk film made me curious, I watched the trailer. I booked a ticket.

(These are the only images I could find for the film)

Set up slightly like a bizarre thriller but really a melodrama filled with so many mixed emotions its a surprise that any of the characters knows how each other feels. It was brilliant. 

Like all the reviews, I don't want to and can't give too much away about the story because it would ruin the experience. Claire (Demoustier) is grieving for a best friend, who's shes known since childhood. She has promised to watch over her husband, David (Duris) and young daughter but after she discovers a secret, she herself has to start lying to her own husband (Raphael Personnaz).

Normal life and repressed emotions are played out side by side, sometimes in very awkward scenes between the two leads. Friendship and understanding of each others needs and desires are slowly discovered but not quite accepted, especially on Claire's side. She harbours deep down emotions that were never really allowed to surface. The melodramatic elements of the story and characters are easy to identify, as well as light humour but its the suspense that I thought made the story about from the same old plot, as well as the brilliant shock moments. A critic from The Hollywood Reporter described this as being similar to the suspense Hitchcock created. I thought the score played a large part in this effect.

A brilliant film and an interesting start to my festival experience this year.

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