Eloquent fragments: French fiction film and globalization

O'Shaughnessy, M (2005)
Berghahn Journals
French (and Franco-Belgian) cinema has witnessed a return to the real since the middle of the 1990s and should thus successfully have pinned down the impact of the globalizing economy on the sociopolitical sphere. Yet neoliberal globalization is deeply resistant to representation within the frame of conventional fictions. Condemned to be a cinema of fragments by the shattering of the old leftist imaginary, has French cinema merely tracked globalization's local consequences, always letting systemic causes escape its grasp? Or has it identified successful strategies with which to restore eloquence to social struggle and suffering that otherwise seemed condemned to silence? Engaging with important films by the Dardenne brothers, Robert Gu├ędiguian, Bertrand Tavernier, Manuel Poirier, Matthieu Kassovitz and others, this paper argues the latter. French film, it suggests, has found ways to make the fragments speak to the totality, to short-circuit neoliberal triumphalism and to interpellate a nation that no longer plays its erstwhile integrational role. While none of these strategies can provide totalizing systemic critique, they do show that cinema is playing an active role in the rebuilding of a radical oppositional imaginary.

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