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Author: Brigitte Rollet

Coline Serreau is one of the most famous female French directors alive, not only in France but also abroad. This book is devoted not only to some relevant biographical aspects of Serreau's personal and artistic life, but also to the social, historical and political context of her debut. It deals with the 1970s' flavour of Serreau's work and more especially with the importance of politics. Taking intertextuality in its broadest sense, it assesses the strong literary influence on the tone, genre and content of Serreau's films and dramas. The book is concerned with the cinematographic genres Serreau uses. It provides a description and an analysis of Serreau's comedies, within the wider perspective of French comedies. The book also deals with the element of 'family' or community which is recurrent in Serreau's films and plays. During the 1980s, Serreau's career moved towards fiction, and she worked both for the cinema and the theatre. Serreau often underlines her family's lack of financial resources. The book considers the specificity of French cinema in the 1970s before analysing in more detail Serreau's first film. Serreau's work on stage and on big or small screens was strongly influenced by the political mood which succeeded May '68 in France. The book also discusses the idea of utopia which was the original theme of Serreau' first documentary and which is central to her first fiction film, Pourquoi pas!. Female humour and laughter cannot be considered without another powerful element: the motivation of often transgressive laughter.

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Brigitte Rollet

French cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. This chapter deals mainly with a description and an analysis of Serreau’s comedies, within the wider perspective of French comedies (or comedies à la fran ç aise). The aim is to show to what extent her comedies both reproduce and reject the usual and typical ‘ingredients’ of the genre. The specificity (or the lack of specificity) of French comedies in general is also considered. After a presentation of the genre, which is one of the most popular in France, the issue of its traditionally male

in Coline Serreau
Comedy and humour
Brigitte Rollet

the silent years of the European cinema overcame what would become a major problem for most contemporary national cinemas apart from that ofthe United States. The proliferation of American remakes of European films (including Serreau’s Trois hommes et un couffin) could also be considered in this light, although this is obviouslynot the only reason. In France, comedy is probably the oldest and the most popular cinematographic genre. For a very long period it has also been an almost exclusively male preserve, a feature it shares

in Coline Serreau
Will Higbee

for a French comedy, as the butt of the joke. In addition to this use of the ménage à trois , the film’s energetic, witty dialogue delivered in inverted street slang ( verlan ) incorporates the vaudeville traditions of mainstream French screen comedy (quickfire dialogue and wordplay) into the vernacular of contemporary urban youth. Elsewhere, and just as importantly, Métisse relies extensively on

in Mathieu Kassovitz
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Guy Austin

formulaic in its use of genre (on-off romance, criminal thugs, chase sequences) and in its characterisation. As in French comedy tradition, the focus is on a comic duo, in this case the muscled, tall and dark Lanvin teamed with the diminutive and balding Blanc. The physical contrast between the actors is exaggerated via the action. François’s strength, athleticism and good looks are emphasised in fight sequences and romantic

in Contemporary French cinema
The making of a director
Lisa Downing

role and revealing his capacity to portray extraordinary qualities of emotional depth, it permitted Sandrine Bonnaire to incarnate a more complex female role than had previously been seen in any film by Leconte. The man’s man – or perhaps more accurately the boy’s boy – of French comedy thus began to treat the question of female subjectivity. He states: ‘à partir de Monsieur Hire , j’ai éprouvé le besoin de travailler autant

in Patrice Leconte
From Le Raïd to Jeunesse dorée
Carrie Tarr

. The film thus ends with the trio escaping to freedom on Patrick’s former girlfriend’s purloined scooter, Patrick having learnt at last how to understand and manipulate prejudices based on appearances instead of being the victim of them. The film inflects concerns about ethnic difference and identity with an interest in ‘deviant’ sexualities which recalls other successful French comedies such as Gazon maudit (Balasko, 1994) and the more

in Reframing difference
The ‘post-Hollywood’ Besson
Rosanna Maule

Nikita ’ (the English title for Nikita ). Whereas Léon is an action film set in New York and co-produced by Columbia, Taxi is set in Marseille, displays typical traits of French comedy, and was entirely produced and distributed by a French company. Including all the classic ingredients of the Hollywood action film, and adapting the on-wheel, speed-related plot inaugurated by Speed (Jan de

in The films of Luc Besson
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The actor/auteur
Will Higbee

auteur and mainstream films (Vincendeau 2000 : 23–4). Consequently, though the success of Kassovitz’s involvement in Amélie opened potentially lucrative doors for starring roles in mainstream French comedies (Jeffries 2001 ), the young filmmaker refused all such offers until the opportunity to act in Costa-Gavras’s Amen presented itself. Moreover, during the early 2000s Kassovitz prioritised

in Mathieu Kassovitz
Will Higbee

auteur -led productions, often at the expense of French comedy, 21 but also the way that, in their analysis of French national cinema, French academics, critics and film historians have tended to promote the auteur , avant-garde or the state prescribed ‘quality and culture’ of the heritage film over directors associated with popular cinema. Contrary to the established position of the French film

in Mathieu Kassovitz