Abstract only

Patrice Leconte appears to the world as a Janus-faced figure. On the one hand, he seems to wear the mask of the populist comfortably. On the other hand, one might argue, his credentials could not be more highbrow. He served an apprenticeship at the prestigious IDHEC (Institut des hautes études cinématographiques) and spent his early days working as a critic for Cahiers du cinema. This book explores Leconte's use of comedy as a strategy for negotiating and navigating the subject's passage through the world. It examines Leconte's representations of masculinity in relation to the rich and under-explored concept of the 'masculine masquerade', a term taken from psychoanalytic theory. During the year of preparation for the concours, he enjoyed rich pedagogical experiences, including visiting lectures by canonical names of French cinema such as Jean-Claude Carrière, and he relished the hands-on approach to the study of cinematography. The book also examines the criticism often levelled at Leconte's cinema that it is excessively fetishistic and reveals a bias of misogyny. It focuses on Leconte's most recent films, La Fille sur lepont, La Veuve de Saint-Pierre, Felix et Lola and Rue des plaisirs, which have in common a focus on unconventional relationships between men and women. For many film critics and cinemagoers , Leconte's corpus divides neatly between the comic films of his 'apprenticeship', such as those made in collaboration with the Splendid company, and his mature, 'serious' output, usually thought to begin with Tandem in 1986.

‘Frigidity’ and feminism

It was in 1965 that Roman Polanski would cast Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion, described by one critic as a 'one-woman show', in a role that would effectively create a persona which would resonate throughout her future film career. The British-made Repulsion was Polanski's first English-language film and his second feature. This chapter contends that Repulsion can be read against the grain to offer a surprisingly sympathetic account of what happens to a young woman of the sexual revolution generation who rejects the imperative of heterosexual activity. It assesses and critiques the reception of Polanski's film Repulsion with regard to its portrayal of female subjectivity, arguing that Deneuve's presence in the film works to disrupt rather than to confirm straightforward stereotypes and codes of femininity. The chapter discusses the significance of this film for the development of Catherine Deneuve's screen persona.

in From perversion to purity
Abstract only

Patrice Leconte appears to the world as a Janus-faced figure. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores Leconte's use of comedy as a strategy for negotiating and navigating the subject's passage through the world. It examines Leconte's representations of masculinity in relation to the rich and under-explored concept of the 'masculine masquerade', a term taken from psychoanalytic theory. The book also examines the criticism often levelled at Leconte's cinema that it is excessively fetishistic and reveals a bias of misogyny. It focuses on Leconte's most recent films, La Fille sur lepont, La Veuve de Saint-Pierre, Felix et Lola and Rue des plaisirs, which have in common a focus on unconventional relationships between men and women.

in Patrice Leconte
The making of a director

Patrice Leconte was born in Paris on 12 November 1947 but spent his entire childhood in Tours. During the year of preparation for the concours he enjoyed rich pedagogical experiences, including visiting lectures by canonical names of French cinema such as Jean-Claude Carrière, and he relished the hands-on approach to the study of cinematography. For many film critics and cinemagoers, Leconte's corpus divides neatly between the comic films of his 'apprenticeship', such as those made in collaboration with the Splendid company, and his mature, 'serious' output, usually thought to begin with Tandem in 1986. As even a brief survey of his career and filmography to date can illustrate, Leconte's films tend to fall outside of recognized categories and genres in French film, such as the post-'68 political film, the noir thriller and the heritage movie, even as they flirt with, acknowledge or gesture towards them.

in Patrice Leconte
Abstract only
in Patrice Leconte
Abstract only
From Les Bronzes to Ridicule

This chapter explores the strategic uses to which Patrice Leconte puts comedy, by means of a brief assessment of his early film Les Bronzés, which will then be put into dialogue with what is widely considered Leconte's most serious and 'intellectual' film to date, Ridicule. Characterization is one-dimensional in Les Bronzés and Leconte's other early comedies. Stereotype is one of the primary comic devices used in Les Bronzés. The racial stereotype of thieving black natives, the first with which we are presented, may at first appear to suggest a troubling attitude of racism on the part of the filmmaker. The tableau exemplifies in various ways the humour that characterizes the early comedies of Leconte's career, made in collaboration with the café-théâtre group Le Splendid. Ridicule blends performance techniques lifted from the café-théâtre with a presentation of issues such as the function of language, power and ethics.

in Patrice Leconte

A large number of Patrice Leconte's films, particularly those made in the middle part of his career to date (the 1980s and 1990s), focus thematically and generically upon male relationships and foreground certain male actors, such as Jean Rochefort, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, in such a way as to contribute to, exploit or skew their existing star images. There are two principal means by which Leconte denaturalizes filmic signifiers of masculinity in order to present masculine performativity or 'males in masculine drag' as an excess of signification and as a source of anxiety. The first involves a fragmentation and exaggeration of certain generic conventions that codify men in ways acceptable to, and commensurate with the aims of, the heterosexual order. The second relies upon a self-conscious manipulation of actors' performance styles and star images.

in Patrice Leconte

This chapter attempts the knotty task of evaluating Patrice Leconte's three films, namely, Monsieur Hire, Le Mari de la coiffeuse and Le Parfum d'Yvonne, in light of the critical conundrum. It involves, firstly, a rehearsal of the principal theoretical assumptions guiding discussions of fetishistic voyeurism in the cinema, and secondly, a rigorous close reading of the films in order to expose the broader narrative logics in which their allegedly sexist spectacles are embedded. Voyeurism and fetishism are concepts with considerable critical currency in film studies. Christian Metz's theory of the peculiarly hermetic subject/object nature of cinematic spectatorship was harnessed in the gender-specific account offered by psychoanalytically informed feminist work undertaken in the 1970s. The most influential of such accounts is undoubtedly Laura Mulvey's canonical Screen article of 1975, 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema'.

in Patrice Leconte

This chapter asserts that the postmodern composition of Patrice Leconte's later films is indistinguishable from of a contemporary ethical agenda. It contents that Leconte exploits the filmic language of love as a metaphor for broader ethical challenges, encounters and dilemmas in ways that parallel the contexts in which Emmanuel Levinas's work is starting to be considered within recent theoretical debates. The chapter demonstrates that Leconte deconstructs the meaning of heterosexuality in La Fille sur le pont and implicitly addresses the condition of the colonized other in La Veuve de Saint-Pierre. It shows parallels and similarities with a strand of ethical thinking in contemporary Continental thought that 'displac[es] the conventional concerns of ethics with moral agency, with rights and justice, on to the singularity of the demand of responsibility towards the ultimate unknowability of "the other"'.

in Patrice Leconte
Abstract only

In a short tribute to Woody Allen written for Positif in 1994, Patrice Leconte acknowledges and celebrates the eclecticism which has characterized his cinematic influences and tastes. In his eagerness to do justice to all those artists who have touched or impressed him, Leconte crosses nationality and generation, before finally expressing his admiration for the iconic Jewish-American tragic-comic director and actor. This reluctance, this restless, irritable inability to commit to any one discernable position or to follow any singular influence is perhaps at the heart of Leconte's diversity as a filmmaker. Leconte's refusal to profess an engagement to a single filmic genre, style, social project or political agenda is often dismissed as revelatory of a frivolous or adolescent lack of gravity. Leconte's films relocate ethical questions away from the body politic and into an imaginary world of intersubjective challenges, dilemmas and interactions.

in Patrice Leconte