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Reviewed by:
  • Screening Youth, Contemporary French and Francophone Cinema ed. by Romain Chareyron and Gilles Viennot
  • Peadar Kearney
Romain Chareyron and Gilles Viennot, eds. Screening Youth, Contemporary French and Francophone Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019. Pp. 250.

Screening Youth, Contemporary French and Francophone Cinema is an innovative text that gathers together diverse approaches to the notion of youth in French-language cinema. Editors Romain Chareyron and Gilles Viennot inform us that the desire to produce the collection stemmed from the realization that while youth has been a central interest of Francophone film, this focus has not yet been matched by academic studies. Most debates concerning the 'teen movie' as genre find their roots in studies of Rebel Without a Cause (Nicolas Ray, 1956). Although the 'teen movie' may be less established in the Francophone world than it is in the Anglosphere, one can think of many French-language screen productions where young people are at the fore. The collection is therefore very much at the intersection of French studies and film studies.

There are three different types of chapters in Screening Youth: theory-based, filmmaker-centered, and thematic comparison. The theory-based chapters are understandably placed near the beginning of the book in order to sketch out a framework for what is to follow. The majority of chapters address the notion of youth across the work of one filmmaker. However, a number of theme-based chapters examine the notion of youth across the work of multiple directors, for example, comparing the notion of queer bodies in the Maghreb and France or representations of gender and the banlieue. The collection retains its cohesion by being grouped through its common over-arching thematic and notional concerns.

Gemma Edney's theorization of what may interest us in terms of the 'youth movie' in the French-speaking context is of particular interest here, as she asks if there is a French equivalent of the 'teen movie,' an established genre of the American mainstream. Fiona Handyside's analysis adds depth and fresh perspective to Mia Hansen-Løve's films, while Elizabeth Geary Keoghan's study of Bruno Dumont's P'tit Quinquin (2014) allows us to reconsider many of the unanswered questions of the memorable mini-series. Walter S. Temple's chapter mixes the study of film with spectator reaction interviews in order to articulate the extent to which the films being studied may be considered authentic. With these examples alone, we can see that the collection successfully covers a broad range of genres and styles, even going slightly beyond the limits of cinema itself. Spanning 15 chapters, 13 of these being case studies, the collection's scope is suitably broad in covering an array of styles and artistic registers. Remaining predominantly with the extreme contemporary enhances the collection's cohesion, as few of the films studied date before 2000. There is potential for more work to develop the initial ideas and apply them elsewhere; for example, one could easily imagine another collection that concentrates on Quebec or Belgium, with an abundance to say about the notion of youth in films of Xavier Dolan or the Dardenne brothers. Comparative studies of different film cultures would surely provide further insight. Such inspiration is a testament to the collection's success. [End Page 152]

Peadar Kearney
Maynooth University


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