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Bill Marshall

This is a full-length monograph about one of France's most important contemporary filmmakers, perhaps best known in the English-speaking world for his award-winning Les Roseaux sauvages/Wild Reeds of 1994. It locates André Téchiné within historical and cultural contexts that include the Algerian War, May 1968 and contemporary globalisation, and the influence of Roland Barthes, Bertolt Brecht, Ingmar Bergman, William Faulkner and the cinematic French New Wave. The originality of his sixteen feature films lies in his subtle exploration of sexuality and national identity as he challenges expectations in his depictions of gay relations, the North African dimensions of contemporary French culture and the centre–periphery relationship between Paris, especially his native southwest and the rest of France. The book also looks at the collaborative nature of Téchiné's filmmaking, including his work with Catherine Deneuve, who has made more films with him than with any other director, and the role of Philippe Sarde's musical scores.

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Bill Marshall

This chapter is about André Téchiné, whose sixteen feature films to date include a range of low- and high-budget productions. Among these films, some involve major stars of the French cinema, some a cast of unknowns, some highly successful in terms of the box office, some far less so. Téchiné is a particularly interesting case for auteur study in that there seems to be a major break in 1981, when his films became less experimental and more mainstream, inaugurating a realist, novelistic cinema which continues to this day. However, his first filmmaking experience emerged from a theatrical milieu. In 1969, Téchiné was assistant director of Jacques Rivette's L'Amour fou. It was around this time that he conceived and began to shoot his first feature film, Paulina s'en va. The chapter also explores Téchiné's other feature film, such as Les Soeurs Brontë (1979) and Souvenirs d'en France (1975). Téchiné's first four features are striking for the differences between them and the departures each makes from its predecessor.

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Bill Marshall

This chapter discusses four famous movies of André Téchiné. It begins with Hôtel des Amériques (1981), the opening sequence of which announces new departures in Téchiné's cinema. Téchiné establishes a rhythm of light and dark in the film that maps the progress of the love affair. Despite this realism, the universe of Hôtel des Amériques is mental as well as social. The second movie discussed in the chapter is Rendezvous (1985), which provides a very stark example of the twin elements of Téchiné's filmmaking: the evocation of real and of virtual or mental worlds. Rendez-vous reminds us of the persistence in Téchiné's work of notions of doubling and phantoms, of the virtual self or selves that always co-exist with the seemingly positioned self. Further, the chapter also discusses two other movies: J'embrasse pas (1991) and Les Voleurs (1996). Téchiné's combination of the melodramatic mode, defamiliarisation and polyglossia marks continuity in his movies.

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Bill Marshall

This chapter explores three movies of André Téchiné that are based on families and sexualities. Le Lieu du crime (1986), co-scripted with Pascal Bonitzer and Olivier Assayas, seems to invite a straightforward Freudian reading, with an ‘incestuous’ or excessively close relationship between mother and son. The second movie, Ma Saison préférée (1993), provided Téchiné with his biggest box-office success. Ma Saison préférée seeks to portray three generations of the same family and is the most Bergmanesque of Téchiné's films, in its emphasis on relationships rather than plot, its extensive use of close-ups and its obsession with time. The third movie, Les Roseaux sauvages (1994), develops the idea of unfinished aspirant by portraying a group of teenagers doing the baccalauréat.

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Bill Marshall

Interrogations of Frenchness are a crucial part of the mix in Téchiné's explorations of modern life. Plural itineraries of Frenchness echo Téchiné's refusal when dealing with sexuality to alight upon stable ‘gay’ identities. Just as homosexuality serves to heterogenise the sexual, journeys and margins serve to heterogenise ‘France’. Téchiné's films prompt the question, ‘which France?’ A word of which Téchiné is fond is dépaysement, whose literal meaning is that of being made to change country (pays), to be exiled, uprooted, lost, and thus in general to change place or milieu. For Téchiné it is a kind of ontological category, describing the nature of human existence. This chapter examines its more literal dimension of dépaysement, exploring Téchiné's Alice et Martin (1998). There are many remarkable aspects to Alice et Martin, and the messiness of its overall edit is to some extent the flip side of the film's pluralism, which constantly tugs at, and even runs away from, the central narrative thread.

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Bill Marshall

Les Temps qui changent (2004) is Téchiné's sixteenth and latest film, which is a useful point of departure for examining the collaborative nature of his work. It shows the extent to which an approach excessively centred on the director as auteur risks missing wider creative processes. The film explores the relationship between past and present while recapitulating the motifs and scenes from previous Téchiné films. It restages Téchiné's simultaneous attentiveness to socio-historical determinants and strata, and also to desires, dreams, aspirations, a virtual realm completely distinct from the antiseptic computer-generated animated film that advertises the new media complex. Despite the film's typical pluralism, it is the reunion of Deneuve and Depardieu that is at its centre, along with the central love story and love quest. Téchiné always writes his own screenplays, but always in collaboration with at least one other. Aside from that with Deneuve, his other long-term collaboration has been with Martinen Giordano, who worked as the editor on La Matiouette.

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Of faces and roles

Deneuve–Téchiné

Bill Marshall

Catherine Deneuve has made five films with André Téchiné, more than with any other director she has worked with in her long career: Hôtel des Amériques, Le Lieu du crime/Scene of the Crime, Ma saison préférée/My Favourite Season, Les Voleurs/Thieves and Les Temps qui changent. In order to investigate the meanings of this connection, this chapter examines the established literature in film studies on Deneuve's star persona. The relationship between art and popular cinema in Deneuve's output can also be expressed in terms of the distinction between 'star' and acteur fétiche. Aspects of the pre-existing Deneuve persona (autonomous, empowered) happily encounter Téchiné's narratives of change, transformation, plurality, and becoming. Finally, and to take a distance from questions of stardom and acting technique, it is possible to see in the supremely cinematic Deneuve face one of the best examples of what Deleuze and Guattari call visagéité, or facialisation.