Phil Powrie
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French neo-noir to hyper-noir
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Few films demonstrate what might be considered the typical noir sensibility - the combination of expressionistic lighting and decor, seedy urban context, femmes fatales, world-weary private detective - even if many of them use one or two of these tropes. Some films do make more use of these characteristics than most, while at the same time pushing towards a new noir sensibility in the late 1990s. This chapter explores the changes in the French polar after 1968: the paranoia of the political thriller and the violence of the postmodern and naturalistic thriller. That new noir sensibility is different enough, and dark enough, from what preceded it, for us to call it 'hyper-noir'. The issue of embodiment is a key turn in certain thrillers of the late 1990s, and is potentially much more productive in terms of film form than the changes in the genre in the aftermath of 1968.

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