This article examines a recent tendency in contemporary art cinema—the New French Extremity (NFE)—and focuses specifically on a critique of the scholarly discourse that has flourished around it in recent years. The fundamental argument of this discourse can be summarized as follows: by way of extremity, the new film trend foregrounds sensation, which in its aesthetic immediacy provides the point of access to a more authentic reality. This article argues that such a perspective forecloses the complex formal strategies that characterize the films, thus neglecting the crucial role that mediation plays in this so-called cinema of immediacy. Furthermore, this missed encounter between the films of the NFE and the critical discourse about them raises a larger set of questions regarding the status of theory in the field of contemporary film studies, particularly in the dialectical relationship between theory and its object.

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