Australian Journal of French Studies

Framing “l’Âme des personnages”: Performance and Affect in Jacques Feyder’s Pension Mimosas (1935)

Australian Journal of French Studies (2020), 57, (2), 217–232.

Abstract

Although Jacques Feyder’s authorial control over his productions and his direction of actors constituted two of the most widely appreciated aspects of his approach to filmmaking during his own lifetime, the impact of each on his mise en scène has received little critical attention. This article aims to remedy this oversight by linking both aspects in three stages: first, drawing on contemporary periodicals, recollections of Feyder’s performers and his own writings, it illustrates Feyder’s preoccupation with the creation of in-depth psychological portraits through his actors; second, focusing on Pension Mimosas (1935), it demonstrates that Feyder’s technical style, although aligned closely with empirically conventional visual stylistics such as filmed theatre, subjugates narrative norms to a treatise on the subversive ideological force of performativity; third, it argues that the film’s central female characters provocatively transgress misogynistic tropes designed to restrict and homogenize female bodies in French cinema during the 1930s. This study ultimately aims to plot new points of departure towards a fuller understanding of Feyder’s directorial style and how its apparently conventional components contested constricting patriarchal constructions of gendered relations in interwar France.

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Author details

NEVIN, BARRY