You might be tempted re-translate a title like that (in its original French: La Nouvelle Eve) as “Women Today, Huh”, and watch the film as a portrait of, well, you follow my drift. Played by Karin Viard, our heroine Camille is a neurotic ball of angst, a woman on a quest for happiness, and hang the cost to others. The film opens with Camille at a party of almost comical anything-goesness, but even she pushes it too far – finally throwing up on her host’s bed after having done all the drugs and all the genders in a night of excess. After that, for Camille it’s a series of pffts to the niceties of normal life and a string of no-strings sexual conquests. Until she hits resistance after trying to separate the local socialist pin-up (Pierre-Loup Rajot) from his wife. He’s a man of principle, she’s a woman of pure self-interest – stand back and watch the dramatic fireworks. In spite of the obvious attractions of this movie – sex is fun, after all – it’s probably the performance by Viard that keeps this from being a one-note me-me-me display of awful narcissism. Camille may be the sort of screaming baggage who’s great for one drunken night only but Viard presents her as a woman broken by the waves of her own wild mood swings. This is not a drama about women today at all, but instead a portrait of the sort of freewheeling bohemianism that looks so attractive from the outside but which leads to loneliness – because relationships require commitment, and that means a surrender of some part of the self, which is the bit that Camille struggles with. The New Eve is dirty but it’s also sophisticated, intelligent and politically and psychologically savvy. I forgot to mention that it’s also funny. Meanwhile, on the Anglophone end of the great cultural divide, we have silly Bridget Jones. Alors.
© Steve Morrissey 1999