Une mine d'or inpuisable: the queer pleasures of Franois Ozon's 8 femmes/8 Women (2002)
Author: Waldron, Darren
Source: Studies in French Cinema, Volume 10, Number 1, March 2010 , pp. 69-82(14)
Abstract:With more than 3.7 million tickets sold in 2002, 8 femmes is prolific director Franois Ozon's greatest commercial success by far. The film centres on a murder enquiry among eight women snowbound in a rural mansion, one of whom is suspected of having murdered Marcel, the patriarch of the house. Yet, the plot is secondary, functioning simply as a launch pad for a series of high-camp performances among its cast, which includes Catherine Deneuve, Fanny Ardant and Isabelle Huppert. Lesbian desires surface repeatedly, culminating in a now famous embrace between Deneuve and Ardant towards the film's closure. Each actor/character performs a musical vignette which covers French pop hits, including Dalida's Pour ne pas vivre seul. Moreover, the film fuses the kitsch universe of Agatha Christie-style whodunits with the sharp cynicism of The Women (George Cukor, 1939), the hyperbole of Douglas Sirk's Hollywood melodramas, the exuberance of Vincente Minnelli's musicals, and the experimentation of Die Bitteren Trnen de Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972). Consequently, the coalition of themes, performances and cinematographic and popular cultural references indexes a transnational archive invested with queer meaning by some viewing groups. By combining detailed analysis of 8 femmes and its inter/extra-textual allusions with a small-scale qualitative investigation of audience reactions, this article seeks to evaluate the importance of this textual queerness for the film's visual pleasure. Furthermore, it compares viewer responses with the film's critical reception, and considers the extent to which its use of parody and camp questions the view that 8 femmes is one of Ozon's most misogynist films to date.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Manchester.
Publication date: 2010-03-01
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