Claire Denis and the World Cinema of Refusal


Economic crisis emerges as a central feature of globalization and, in particular, of the structural instability of transnational capital circulation since the 1970s. The strategies of neoliberalism––deregulation, privatization, and expropriation of wealth toward the richer nations––redoubled the indebtedness of the global South and helped provoke debt crises in nations from Mexico in the 1980s and East Asia in the 1990s to Argentina, Iceland and Greece in the 2000s. Embedded as it almost always is within the global circuits of capitalist culture, cinema has a particularly complex relationship to globalization: these economic shifts affect film funding, modes of production, and the institutions of international distribution, all of which intersect variously with histories of genre, form and representation. In order to address both the textuality and the institutions of contemporary French cinema in relation to crisis, I will focus here on a particular instance of economic language––the notion of default––as a heuristic in the recent films of Claire Denis. The concept of default, I will argue, provides a way to read Denis’s films as resistant to the dominant narratives, forms and circulatory mechanisms of global neoliberalism.

Read Article On Muse