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An Ethical Queer Cinema? Hypervisibility and the Alienated Gay Gaze in Ducastel and Martineau’s Ma vraie vie à Rouen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalModern & Contemporary France
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012


This article responds to two recent developments in contemporary French studies. The first is the growing preoccupation in French film studies with ethics; the second is the tendency in French cultural studies to identify in the twenty-first century a cultural moment (sometimes described as ‘post-queer’) in which the contestatory concept of ‘queer’ is no longer needed and those once stigmatised as homosexuals have escaped the closet to the point of becoming ‘hypervisible’. Declarations of hypervisibility have an ethical force, it is argued here, not least because a state of (passive) hypervisibility also implies an (active) act of looking, and thus a particular paradigm of viewing relations. As a visual medium, cinema is exceptionally well placed not only to create ethical or unethical viewing relations, but also to interrogate them. As few analyses of the ethics of French queer films have yet been published, my aim is to demonstrate French queer cinema's ethical potential via a reading of Ducastel and Martineau's Ma vraie vie à Rouen (2003). This is a film that, as I show in this article, offers an alternative perspective on the contemporary French gay experience, as well as a wide-ranging consideration of the ethics behind viewing relations via its focus on the subjective experience and gay gaze of its first-person protagonist.

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