Tautou's Face

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2 Scopus citations


Reactions in France to Jean-Pierre Jeunet's phenomenally successful film Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) tend to fall into two groups. According to one perspective, the film is a superficial and racially sanitized form of cinetourism; according to another, it is a profound and sincere celebration of traditional French values. For both groups, the cultural work the film performs coalesces around close-ups of the face of Audrey Tautou, the film's star. This essay asks how Tautou's face and the close-up shot it exemplifies can say so much while showing so little. By drawing on the theoretical history of camera distance, it argues that the formal design of the close-up, which demands simultaneously an analytic and an affective response to the visual image, usefully informs the relations between political reactions to the film and French debates around the question of national identity at the start of the twenty-first century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1060
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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