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Art Essay Humanities Nonfiction Theory

Goodbye, ‘temporary’ transvestites – hello, new girlfriend! Ozon’s transgenre and transgender crossovers in Une nouvelle amie (2014)

By Levilson C. Reis, 2018

Departing from the premise that, prior to the passage of the marriage-for-all law in France, the representation of transgender identities in mainstream French cinema had been limited to the cross-dressing farce of comic film, this article studies Une nouvelle amie/The New Girlfriend (François Ozon, 2014), conceived, produced and premiered at the height of the gender-theory and marriage-for-all debate, as a potential change of direction in cinematic representation of transgender identities. It argues that Ozon’s mise en scène of a male-to-female gender transition not only engages both camps of the debate, but also challenges the conventional cross-dressing film narrative, proposing a new aesthetic and political vision for transgender visibility and mobility in mainstream French cinema. Beginning with a discussion of cross-dressing in Ozon’s oeuvre, this study situates Une nouvelle amie in the cross-hairs of the gender-theory and same-sex marriage debates. Drawing on the film’s mise en scène, it then analyses key scenes that stage gender transition in terms of performance, performativity and alternative modes of becoming, whilst engaging with the highly normative discourse of psychoanalysis, which remains pivotal to the heart of the debate, and marshalling it as a point of departure for other forms of expressing transgender identities. KEYWORDS: Une nouvelle amie, the ‘temporary transvestite’ film narrative, cross-dressing, acting out, gender performance, becoming-woman

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