Mia Hansen-Løve: A Transcendental Style for the Twenty-First Century

Speaker: Dr Kate Ince (Birmingham)

Now with six feature films to her name, Mia Hansen-Løve is one of France’s most acclaimed young directors, and winner of the Louis Delluc prize for Best First Film in 2007 (for All Is Forgiven, shared with Céline Sciamma for Waterlilies), the Cannes film festival’s Special Jury prize in its Un Certain regard competition in 2009 (for Father of My Children), and the Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director of (Things to Come) in 2016.

Hansen-Løve’s films are meditative dramas about family relationships, vulnerability, love, growing up and growing old, all filmed with exceptional attention to film’s ability to convey the passing of time, separation, and loss. The overarching argument of my book Mia Hansen-Løve: candour and vulnerability is that Hansen-Løve’s sensitivity to her protagonists’ spiritual lives and vulnerability makes her a filmer of the ethical, particularly in tune with ‘the ethical turn’ that has marked Western cultures and philosophy since the 1990s.

This paper, taken from the chapter of the book entitled ‘Candid Camera’, will examine how Hansen-Løve’s films relate to her stated influences in French cinema, Eric Rohmer and Robert Bresson. She is on record as saying that when she first viewed the films of Bresson, master of the so-called ‘spiritual style’, she identified immediately with the ‘entirely bodily’ mode of spirituality that animates Bresson’s actors. It is clear that her vocabulary – forgiveness in the title of All Is Forgiven, the connotations of paradise in Eden, and her multiple pastoral locations – tends towards the theological as well as the philosophical, and by articulating how religious belief contributed to shaping the film philosophies of Bresson and Rohmer and outlining Hansen-Løve’s commentaries on their legacy and consciousness of their influence, this chapter will explore the (Christian) theological dimension of her approach to film-making.