Ironic images of motherhood in contemporary French cinema

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University of Alabama Libraries

There is an increasing trend for contemporary French cinema to feature the family unit. As such, it now serves as the ideal locus for criticism and commentary on individual family members. One of the key members, who functions as the basis for many analytical conversations in the real world, is the mother figure. Through presenting her and her various roles in an ironic manner, contemporary French directors François Ozon, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and Noémie Lvovsky are each able to provide insight into what society expects of mothers and how mothers and non-mothers react and exist inside the demands of a patriarchal society. In films from the early 2000's to present, Ozon, Lvovsky and Bruni Tedeschi have showcased a myriad of mothers, from the non-mothers who seek motherhood, to the young single mothers struggling to survive, and from the well established mothers seeking empowerment through that role to the grandmother depending on her daughter for survival. By presenting the spectator with such a large variety of maternal imagery, Ozon, Lvovsky and Bruni Tedeschi are each able to criticize what society demands of mothers. Mothers are expected to bear sole responsibility for raising their children, with each fault in behavior a failing on their part. They are also expected to be wholly devoted to their children, sacrificing their own dreams, ambitions, and identities to become the ideal of maternal love. By presenting these mothers, who strive to meet their society's expectations, with a hint of irony, Ozon, Lvovsky and Bruni Tedeschi point to the absurdity of such high expectations for any individual. Through the often optimistic, if not traditionally happy ending, Ozon, Lvovsky, and Bruni Tedeschi are also able to point to a changing climate in the expectations of motherhood within western society, and indicate a hope of the reality of that apparent change.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Film studies, Gender studies