Affect and artifice in the melodramas of Isabel Coixet
Sporting low-budget production values and featuring Lili Taylor as Ann, a young woman experiencing loneliness and depression, Things I Never Told You had all the trappings of the contemporary American independent film. The coin-laundry or laundromat in particular fulfils to perfection the iconographic demands of the indie film. The repeated motif of the laundromat suggests that, by mobilising an American indie aesthetic as a ready-made idiom, Isabel Coixet's films are also able to borrow its ironic and detached stance as a deliberate artifice that, paradoxically, gives expression to a search for a visual vocabulary of intimacy and affect. This chapter looks briefly at the ways in which the letter (the ultimate token of language as artifice) acts as one of the central melodramatic gestures in Coixet's films. It endeavours to illustrate the cinephilic recuperation and rebranding of 'cool' melodrama.