1st Edition

The New Woman's Film
Femme-centric Movies for Smart Chicks

ISBN 9781138186811
Published February 6, 2017 by Routledge
224 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

With the chick flick arguably in decline, film scholars may well ask: what has become of the woman’s film? Little attention has been paid to the proliferation of films, often from the independent sector, that do not sit comfortably in either the category of popular culture or that of high art––films that are perhaps the corollary of the middle-brow novel, or "smart-chick flicks". This book seeks to fill this void by focusing on the steady stream of films about and for women that emerge out of independent American and European cinema, and that are designed to address an international female audience. The new woman's film as a genre includes narratives with strong ties to the woman’s film of classical Hollywood while constituting a new distinctive cycle of female-centered films that in many ways continue the project of second-wave feminism, albeit in a modified form.

Topics addressed include: The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood, 1995); the feature-length films of Nicole Holofcener, 1996-2013; the film roles of Tilda Swinton; Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008); Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013); Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012), Belle (Amma Asante, 2013), Fifty Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor-Johnson, 2015) and Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel, 2013-).

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Do Women Watch?

Chapter One: After the Woman’s Picture: The New Woman’s Film and the Chick Flick

Chapter Two: The New Woman’s Film in the Twenty-first Century: The Smart-Chick Film and Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)

Chapter Three: Anticipating the Twenty-first Century: "Dirty Harry Bathed in a Romantic Glow?" and The Bridges of Madison Country (Clint Eastwood, 1995)

Chapter Four: Nicole Holofcener as the American Female Auteur: "Keeping It Real"–– Walking and Talking (1996), Lovely & Amazing (2002), Friends with Money (2006) Please Give (2010), Enough Said (2013)

Chapter Five: Stardom, Celebrity and the New Woman’s Film: Tilda Swinton and the Maternal Melodrama ––"Winning an Oscar Was Wasted on Me"

Chapter Six: Oscars for Women and the Films of Woody Allen: Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013)

Chapter Seven: The Girl Crush: Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2013), "The Toast of Telluride"

Chapter Eight: Diversity, the Female Biopic and the New Woman’s Film: Belle (Amma Asante, 2013)

Chapter Nine: A Past with a Future, the Ongoing Evolution of the New Woman’s Film: From Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel, 2013-) to Fifty Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor-Johnson, 2015)

Coda: Feminism Redux

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Hilary Radner is Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of History and Art History at the University of Otago. Her research interests revolve around understanding the representations of gender and identity in contemporary visual culture, particularly in terms of how these evolve over time in relation to second-wave feminism. She is the author of two monographs Shopping Around: Consumer Culture and the Pursuit of Pleasure (1995), and Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks and Consumer Culture (2011). Her co-edited volumes include, Film Theory Goes to the Movies (1993), Feminism at the Movies: Understanding Gender in Contemporary Cinema (2011), and A Companion to Contemporary French Cinema (2015).


"This is a very important book, not only for film scholarship but for feminist criticism. It should be recommended reading for anyone interested in the configurations of contemporary cinema outside and inside Conglomerate Hollywood." –Pamela Church-Gibson, London College of Fashion

"With The New Woman’s Film, Hilary Radner continues to break crucial new ground in the study of film, feminism, and contemporary culture. Deftly combining textual and industry analysis, Radner charts the rise of a new wave of women’s films – and new wave of feminist filmmaking – running against the Conglomerate Hollywood tide." –Thomas Schatz, University of Texas at Austin

"So much more than an examination of the 'chick flick,' Radner's enthusiasm for this genre is contagious, as she supplies consistently perceptive discussions of mainstream and independent movies, cinema releases and television series. The New Woman's Film makes an essential contribution to cinema studies, not least because Radner takes contemporary film seriously and invites us to look afresh at how film and film studies has engaged over the decades with women as subjects and spectators." –Stella Bruzzi, University of Warwick