Review by Tom Avila
Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Friday, 10/24/2008, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Lincoln Theatre
ONE OF THE MARKS of a good movie is that you continue to stay with it even when you know, from the very outset, where it’s all ultimately going to lead. And that’s not to say that you simply watch out of a sense of duty or obligation. You are actually invested in the entire journey. It’s like choosing to take the train even if it would be no more expensive and far less time-consuming to fly. You want to watch this world move past your window.
The New World is that kind of movie. Relatively unsurprising in its surprises and predictable in spite of its protestations otherwise (truly — the more this film’s characters say that things will be different you know that they will be the same), The New World flourishes because it has been so lovingly and carefully crafted. Its story takes place in a rich and real world that we recognize and traffic in daily. Characters are true and well-rounded and flawed neither fully nor fatally.
Lucie and Marion are a French lesbian couple living a seemingly full life with a strong circle of friends, meaningful though not entirely well-paying jobs and an obviously deep love for one another. While Marion sees this as the perfect situation, Lucie has begun to hear the unmistakable ticking of her biological clock. There are also some early Ally McBeal-type hallucinations involving pregnant men. This is not a passing fancy.
The two women embark on an ill-fated and entirely unsuccessful attempt at locating a donor that only ends when a friend’s intervention brings them Hugo, an old pal of Marion’s who seems to fill all their requirements. Hugo’s a willing donor with no interest in the daily roles of fatherhood. Seems perfect.
Which means, of course, that it’s not.
Director Etienne Dhaene holds tight to reality while avoiding melodrama or sickly resolution at all costs. Subplots and asides happen as they do every day, to the periphery of our lead characters’ lives and not at their sacrifice. Problems arise and, while they all find resolution, it is hardly always storybook.
In other words, The New World is one that is delightfully our own. Settle in and enjoy the ride.