From Honest Thief to Media Sociopath
This chapter follows Chapter 6 in examining the ongoing evolution of the love-hate relationship between France and the United States as seen through the refracting prism of late twentieth-century French film noir. A brief, diachronic survey beginning from the New Wave outlines the continuing paradox of a French noir cinephile tradition that draws inspiration from, and pays homage to, American noir while presenting increasingly negative images of the United States. The main thrust of the argument is presented through an analysis of Bertrand Tavernier’s 1993 feature, L’Appât [The Bait], a film which has been read as a scathing indictment of American media-materialism and cultural invasion. This chapter attempts to resituate canonical readings of the film and concludes by relating the film’s particular mobilization of noir anxiety back to broader issues in Franco-American relations. These centre around the French-led European resistance to American-dominated globalization and monopolization of the world’s film industries that began during the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations of 1993.
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