Apr 082019
 

Ozon is a filmmaker I’ve followed consistently if not carefully for twenty years. So I was surprised to see him making a film about the sexual abuses of catholic priests. There’s so much opportunity for audiences to confuse homosexuality and pedophilia that I was surprised to see him wandering into the morass. And yet, he’s made his film, and I’ve seen it, and despite myself, I think it’s quite extraordinary.

Why does it work? Because he’s brought to bear every single aspect of his previous filmmaking in order to make it work. This is a film made by a melodramatist, who uses his sensitivity to form and to the moral implications of form to construct a non-melodramatic account of a group of victims’ discovery of the possibility of and their decision to pursue political-legal action. It is a film made by a sexually playful and campy gay man, who shows the temptation and the fall of a priest who could have loomed as a queer monster but who instead appears in his final scenes to be a disturbed man, an ill man who has a same-sex (rather than heterosex) object of desire. It is a film made by an actors’ director who is working with artists cast exactly into the correct roles.

The film is long. It is troubling. It is even difficult. But most of all, it is moving.

Oct 192015
 

Une Nouvelle amieI find François Ozon’s embrace of his influences fascinating. Hitchcock and Sirk are powerful ancestors and many filmmakers would run from them for fear of being crushed.

Ozon hasn’t. He’s latched on and in his best films clambers up onto their shoulders and creates real beauty. 8 Femmes and Dans la maison are good examples.

Une Nouvelle amie is not as good overall as these two films, but the scene in the queer bar where a drag queen sings “Une Femme avec toi” is one of the best moments he’s staged in a long time. Interestingly, it is also the one moment in the film where Ozon leaves Hitchcock and Sirk to the side.

And in leaving them behind, the scene in the bar reminds me of Ozon’s best film, Le Temps qui reste, a movie that confronted directly the problem of telling stories—and especially queer stories—without a preexisting model.