Postfeminism and the Fatale Figure in Neo-Noir Cinema by Samantha Lindop

By Samantha Lindop

This publication is a thought-provoking examine that expands on movie scholarship on noir and feminist scholarship on postfeminism, subjectivity, and illustration to supply an inclusive, refined, and up to date research of the femme fatale , fille fatale , and homme deadly from the vintage period via to contemporary postmillennial neo-noir .

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Examples of such characters include Ivy (Drew Barrymore) in Poison Ivy (Katt Shea, 1992), Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) in John McNaughton’s Wild Things (1998), and Shay Bettencourt (Nikki Reed) in Nicholas DiBella’s Cherry Crush (2007). Neo-noir hommes fatals with bourgeois aspirations can be found in James Dearden’s 1991 remake of A Kiss Before Dying, The Talented Mr Ripley, and Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005). These cinematic texts position the fatal(e) figure as a lazy freeloader who would rather lie, steal, and murder for money than work for it.

Though these films are in part a response to the relaxation of attitudes towards sex, ultimately they frame female desire as dangerous, excessive, and ambiguous. This closely aligns the predatory, bloodsucking lesbian with male anxieties, and given the era that these films became popular, specifically fears about feminist activism.  23). Zimmerman’s argument can be extended to neo-noir and is perhaps most notably played out in Andrew and Larry (now Lana) Wachowski’s Bound (1996). While the film’s femme fatale displays all the conventions of the classic construct (she is highly stylised, feminine, dangerously seductive, and duplicitous), traditional noir is revised by situating the protagonist as a butch lesbian.

Bound is not the only neo-noir to feature themes of same-sex desire. In Basic Instinct for instance, all four women in the film – Catherine, Roxanne Hardy (Leilani Sarelle), Beth Garner ( Jeanne Tripplehorn), and Hazel Dobkins (Dorothy Malone) – are either lesbian or bisexual.

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