Situating senior women in film through positive reflections and sensuous touch: subverting Nichols' The Graduate in Vernoux's Bright Days Ahead.

Marilyn Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

As a French feminist subversion and contemporary reimagining of Mike Nichols’ classic American film, The Graduate, Marion Vernoux’s Bright Days Ahead (Les beaux jours) rebukes Hollywood for its general exclusion of leading women aged 40 or over and its Oedipal portrayals of them. Vernoux’s film subverts The Graduate by portraying the latter film’s adulterous affair between a younger man and an older woman through the woman’s eyes. Using Jacques Lacan’s mirror stage of development and Laura Mulvey’s explanation of how to overturn the male gaze of traditional film, this paper argues that Vernoux conceives a new language of desire for women, or a female gaze, in Bright Days Ahead through the younger lover’s positive reflections on the older woman, Caroline (Fanny Ardant) and close-up images of sensuous touch between Caroline and her younger lover. Scenes of touch between Caroline and her lover were filmed in extreme close-up as they mutually caressed one another. The film’s overall messages are that some men will always be philanderers, but women do not have to accept them, and women including actresses can be sexual throughout their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Early online date3 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2023

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