Samantha Lindop’s book, Postfeminism and the Fatale Figure in Neo-Noir Cinema (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), builds on the research conducted during her doctoral studies at UQ under the supervision of A/Prof Jane Stadler and Dr Anthea Taylor. Springing from the intuition that the femme fatale figure in classic film noir movies of the 1940s could be seen as a proto-postfeminist character due to her strategic deployment of femininity, Dr Lindop developed an approach to postfeminism that differs markedly from established accounts.
Where most postfeminist media studies research concentrates on “chick-flicks” and television series such as Sex and the City or Buffy the Vampire Slayer that celebrate conspicuous consumption and “grrrl-power,” Lindop unearthed a long history of powerful characters who wielded their sexuality like a weapon. Tracing the fatale back to the vamp of the 1920s silver screen and the seductive vampire figure in Gothic novels such as Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), Lindop forged new understandings of the ways in which noir and neo-noir films contest entrenched assumptions about feminism, gender politics, and what it means to be female and to be powerful.
Lindop’s timely book takes noir scholarship into the 21st Century, with a focus on post-millennial neo-noir and an introduction to previously overlooked incarnations of the fatale figure, including teenaged girls (the fille fatale) and male versions of the character (the homme fatal). Both of these figures date back to classic noir, but they are perhaps best exemplified in Lindop’s critique of recent films such as Park Chan-Wook’s brooding neo-noir thriller, Stoker (2013).
Lindop’s analysis of films from the 1940s and ’50s through to the present offers a fresh perspective on a classic style and new insights into postfeminism and its contemporary forms and meanings. She is currently tutoring in the School of Communication and Arts while developing a postdoctoral project on cybernetic women in films from Metropolis (Lang, 1927) to Ex Machina (Garland, 2015).
- Jane Stadler