Berlinale 2024: My New Friends (2024) (Les gens d’à côté)

My New Friends written and directed by André Téchiné is an absorbing debate on a contemporary issue starring the wonderful Isabelle Huppert.

The World Turned Upside Down

by Alexa Dalby

My New Friends

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Isabelle Huppert is Lucie, a police scientific officer still suffering from the suicide of her partner Slimane, a fellow police officer, who she thinks appears to her after his death. She returns to work after a long absence caused by a breakdown, during which she has established a solitary routine in her quiet neighbourhood.

Her lonely life is interrupted when a new family with a lovable little daughter moves in next door. She gets to know them, becomes fond of them and they of her. They treat her as one of the family – as do Slimane’s brother and his family.

But she then discovers that the father Yann (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), a talented graffiti artist, also has a police record as an anti-police, violent political activist and is on house arrest. This is contrary to everything her life has been about. But with the prevailing mood in society, even the police are talking about protesting.

Lucie gets close to the mother Julia, a teacher (Hafsia Herzi), who does not support her husband’s activities, and in her absence gets drawn into helping Yann, even though she feels doing this conflicts with her police duty. She has seen that he is following his conscience.

Techiné, although a veteran film maker aged 80 now, has attempted the debate (disruptor or freedom fighter?) on contemporary societal issues in a relatable, humanitarian, but rather simplistic, way. My New Friends is enjoyable but the adult relationships are unfortunately rather unrealistic. Techiné co-wrote the screenplay with Régis de Martrin-Donos. It’s relevant now with the spotlight on the death of Navalny, a prisoner of conscience. Huppert is as superb as always.

My New Friends had its World Premiere at the Berlinale on 19 February 2024 in Panorama. It is scheduled for theatrical release in France on 8 May 2024. International sales are by Jour2Fête and Pyramide Films . International representation is by The PR Factory.

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