Patrice Leconte

Author: Lisa Downing

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.

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