At first glance, the US indie sector appears to defy Manohla Dargis's 2008 identification of a “new, post-female American cinema.” A significant number of women directors develop female-driven films in the industrial and aesthetic space between mainstream and avant-garde or independent film proper. Seldom, however, are these female directors absorbed by the promotional rhetoric of “Indiewood.” Specifically, their authorship rarely fits the mold celebrated by this discourse, which is that of the “maverick” star auteur—for example, Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson, or Todd Solondz—who takes a highly self-conscious approach to his own signature. This article examines how the films of indie female director Nicole Holofcener offer a critique of this ironic and often cynical pose. Holofcener's work functions as the largely actionless observation of urban, affluent social space, where female characters grapple with the ethical conduct of themselves and their environment. While comparable to the brittle satire of “smart” film directors like Solondz, Neil LaBute, and Noah Baumbach, Holofcener never allows her work to drift into absurd or taboo territory. Instead she advances a self-effacing, observational cinema that dwells in the time and ethos of the everyday. Examining the critical possibilities of her attention to ethics, everydayness, and female relationships is an important step in restoring the place of women's contributions and perspectives in the indie sphere.
Claire Perkins; Beyond Indiewood: The Everyday Ethics of Nicole Holofcener. Camera Obscura 1 May 2014; 29 (1 (85)): 137–159. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2408543
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