Benoit’s first week at his new college is not going as he would have hoped. He is manhandled by Charles’s gang, popular boys, and the only students to welcome him with kindness are “old men”. Fortunately, there is Johanna, a pretty Swedish girl with whom Benoit befriends and falls in love. Alas, this one moves away little by little to integrate the band of Charles. On the advice of his uncle, Benoit organizes a party and invites his whole class. The opportunity to become popular and to find Johanna.
Freaks and geeks.
Adolescence stings its crisis in French cinema in two different ways. It is either approached through the naturalist and authorizing angle (The 400 Blows, To our Loves!, birth of octopuses…), or via more or less inspired comedy (The party, Sexy Boys, The Fine Kids…). Examples that are too disparate to constitute a convincing corpus of French-style teen movies, while American cinema has made a specialty of the genre. New, the last hexagonal exploration dating from the thankless age, is a synthesis of all this. He happily invests in the comic register, without turning his back on realism, and seems to take as more or less direct models the works of John Hugues (for his “melanchomic” accents) or the most recent. Supergrave (for his anti-heroes).
While the French public gave a triumphant welcome to the adaptation of a schoolboy comic (The Teachers 2, biggest French box office success of the year) without questioning the fact that the headliner, Kev Adams, 24, is no longer really old enough to be a high school student, the first feature by Rudi Rosenberg is light years away. New arrives in the dark rooms on tiptoe, enters Star wars vii and the Yule log, without a star in the credits – except Max Boublil who has only two scenes – and with actors who are the age of their characters. Humor hits the mark thanks to the spontaneity of the performers who never let anyone guess where the improvisation begins and ends. There is, in this film, something which “rings true” and, if one laughs a lot, the scenario does not deviate in the easy gag. In the midst of the floodgates and the comedy of situations arise the cruelty of that age, that of gratuitous insults and school harassment, of the pain of being marginalized or of going unnoticed.
New undeniably stir what the spectator had buried more or less deeply in his unconscious as long as he did not skip his fifth grade lessons. And it is undoubtedly this which inspires from the outset a sincere empathy for Benoît, the “new” of the title, who left Normandy for Paris and must integrate into a class where he does not know anyone. Its difficulties of adaptation, the annoyances of which it is the object or the obstacle course to exist with the more popular pupils do not fail to echo the own experience of the public.
Be careful, the film also offers its happy side, with its kidding delusions, its clumsy flirting acts or its exhilarating conclusion. With his gallery of characters, archetypal but not too much, Rudi Rosenberg rehabilitates “freaks” and geeks, those who do not fit into the mold of “popular” college students because they do not have the right clothes and good humor. or the sufficient degree of coolness. These so-called bolos are drawn with great tenderness without ever being mocked, their supposed quirks revealing their strength of character. Funny, moving, cruel and euphoric, and therefore like the middle school years, New is also a beautiful film about friendship, the best weapon in the school of life.
Currently available on Netflix