Before and after the political
in Laurent Cantet
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This chapter considers Cantet’s Foxfire, Confessions of a Girl Gang, an adaptation of the eponymous Joyce Carol Oates novel. Drawing again on Bakhtin’s notion of the polyphonic text, it asks to what extent Cantet is able to open a space for a female authorial voice. Probing the film’s mise en scene, iconography and use of music, it also asks how much the director is able to resist the tendency, as famously analysed by Fredric Jameson, to represent the 1950s as a commodified surface. Drawing on Mary Ann Doane’s discussion of the female masquerade, it probes the capacity of the film’s girl gang to establish their agency and mount a utopian challenge to the social order. Finally, noting how the gang’s trajectory mimics that of other radical political movements, it suggests that the film takes stock of the contemporary political moment, between the politics that was and that yet to be found.

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