In new film noir to what extent are women able to resist and move beyond conventional heterosexual relations. Consider this in relation to the femme fatale and the ‘Queering’ of neo-noir in the 1980 and 1990. New film noir came about in 1970, with extensive, supplementary plots, noir style and tone. The femme fatale has always been the deadly woman, who manipulates the male character with her sexual power to get what she wants. However in new film noir she is also adapted as the femme lesbian or the queering of neo-noir femme.
The neo-noir femme fatale is not just after the money; however she is after sexual pleasure as well as economic power (Kaplan, 153). The femme fatale in neo-noir is sometimes involved in homosexual relations. However throughout I will be examining the extent of women being able to resist and move beyond conventional heterosexual relations, in relation to the femme fatale in Black Widow (1986) and the queering of neo-noir in Basic instinct (1992) and Bound (1996). Nonetheless it is important to be cognizant of queer theory, how it diffused into the role of the femme fatale and the queer in neo-noir.
The Gay Liberation began in 1970 and it was trying to build a coherent gay identity (Lecture note, 5). It was emphasising the need that gay males should be open about their sexuality, to defeat the anti-sexism. Making a homosexual relationship similar or like a heterosexual relationship. Since the Gay Liberation the queer theory commenced in 1980, examining the binary opposition between straight and gay, and why there are two categories of sexual relations (lecture note, 5). Both sexualities being straight or gay are similar in the way that both sexualities express their desires and needs for a human.
However with out the gay movement, lesbian and gay films would have remained home movies in the closet (Dyer, 201). Queer theory in film noir is through pluralism and sexual connotations, for instance in neo-noir Black Widow (1986) there is the same sex connotations between the data analyser turned investigator and the femme fatale, Catherine. Alex the data analyser is read as masculine due to the way she is styled compared to the femme fatale (Kaplan, 155). Alex is heard saying to Catherine ‘Your not taking it personally are you? ‘ while learning mouth to mouth suffocation.
Later Catherine says to Alex ‘Why don’t you say we go up to my room for a couple of decent drinks? ‘. Normally in majority of films when a person asks another person to come to their room for more drinks, it is meant as a sexual invite. However in Black Widow the same-sex connotations are not intended to be in that manner. Nonetheless in Black widow Alex is able to move resist the conventional heterosexual relation by investigating and concentrating on the femme fatale. Even though she has been told by her boss to go on a date, Alex resists by focusing her attention on the femme fatale.
Following and personally trying to get to know the femme fatale, however it becomes almost an obsession with tracking her down. The femme fatale is both attractive and dangerous in Black Widow, which is also apparent in Basic instinct and Bound. However in Basic instinct the femme fatale is known as the lipstick lesbian and in Bound she is known as the lesbian femme who seduces the butch femme. In Thelma and Louise (1991), both female characters leave their partners to go away for the weekend together. However their trip turns out to be more than a weekend away and is wanted in most states for murder.
The notions of that woman are able to resist and move beyond the conventional heterosexual relation is apparent. Thelma is a house wife who lives under her husbands rules; she wants to escape from being a house wife and chooses to go away with her female friend Louise. Thelma finds Louise to be more exciting and satisfying than being with her husband. However in Black Widow, when Alex Projects a shift of images of Catherine onto her wall, Alex stands in front of the images situating herself in relation to the shape of Catherine (Tasker, 106).
According to Tasker (Working Girls, 1998) the images of Catherine and Alex is a sense of discovering a heretofore unknown, which prompts a lesbian reading (Tasker, 106). Nevertheless even though Alex is not a lesbian, lesbian readings can be perceived from her same-sex connotations and actions. The scene of the over played slide show is regarded as seductive, of which it portrays the butch femme controlling the images of the femme fatale (Tasker, 106). Nonetheless this is quite similar to the femme lesbian, Violet in Bound, controlling the butch femme by her seduction. Violet propositions the ex-con corky to steel from the mob.
However sexual seduction does not take much to persuade Corky to steel. It is not merely the femme fatale, which is evil. Queers are also evil, because their aesthetic gives them an access to women that excludes the normal male (Kaplan, 125). In Black Widow Alex’s aesthetics dives her access to Catherine, which Alex uses for her advantage to obtain evidence that Catherine is the black widow, by framing Catherine at the end. In Bound the Protagonists is the dyke, Corky who is an ex-con. However in film noir the dykes are portrayed as trying to be like men, however inevitably failing (Kaplan, 127).
Corky’s plan of steeling from the mob corrupts as Ceasar catches Corky trying to steel the money. Nonetheless it is the lesbian femme, Violet who resembles the male role at the end, in which she saves corky by shooting Ceasar. This also represents that Violet is a lesbian, who has moved on from the normal conventional heterosexual relationship. Corky offers masculinity, which is more attractive to a femme (Kaplan, 158), for example when Ceasar asks Violet ‘What does she do to you? ‘ Violet replies ‘Everything that you couldn’t’. Violet has shifted from one type of sexuality to another.
Violet finds Corky more appealing and sexually satisfying than Ceasar, for Corky knows Violets desires. The performance of the heterosexual relationship in Bound between Ceasar and Violet is considered as ‘work’ for Violet. Violet says to Corky ‘That wasn’t sex it was work’. Throughout Bound Corky and Violet are very similar, both characters have the needs for the money and Corky admits that she and Violet are alike. Even though Corky is a female has masculine qualities of which she can offer Violet, women can trust one another more than they can trust men, because very are of the same sex (Kaplan, 160).
However Corky asks Violet at the end of the film ‘Do you know what the difference is between me and you? ‘ Violet answers ‘no’ then Corky says ‘me neither’. Both characters in Bound, Corky and Violet are very similar and this is probably how they are attractive to one another. Violet receives the masculine side of Corky’s relationship and feminine side as well. Nonetheless Tasker stated (Working Girls, 1998) that the designer of dykes of Basic instinct or Bound brings together an arty noir style in a simultaneous articulation and exploitation of lesbian desire (Tasker, 13).
In Basic instinct the femme fatale plays a strong independent and sexuality role (Tasker, 57), which is enticing for the male character and for the female characters. Some female viewers interpreted the movie as a narrative of female desire and agency driven by the femme fatale (Stokes, 14). The lipstick lesbian, Catherine Tramell is an independent agent who operates her murders on her own. Catherine is no longer controlled by men; however she is in control of herself. Catherine has a girlfriend, Roxy. Nonetheless it seems to be that heterosexual relations between Catherine and her sexual partners is research for her novels.
Catherine sexually seduces Nick Curran (who plays the role of the detective), she manipulates him throughout the film to make him believe that the police psychologist Beth is the ice pick killer. The bi-sexual femme fatale uses her seductive sexuality and power over Nick Curran to become a less centralised suspect of the ice pick murders. Catherine Tramell has two queer relationships in Basic instinct, the first being her present girlfriend Roxy and the second queer relationship was with Beth the police psychologist. However when Catherine finishes writing her book, she openly admits to Nick that she was using him as research for her novel.
Nonetheless at the end of Basic instinct Catherine is seen in bed with Nick in a sexual form. It seems as though she returns to the heterosexual relationship with Nick, as Roxy is no longer alive and she needs satisfying. In Basic instinct Catherine only murders her male partners and keeps her queer relationship close to her. This could be because Catherine finds women are very alike and moves beyond the notion that there is other types and forms of relationships. The lipstick femme’s female partner is a semi-butch femme who tries to kill Nick due to jealously.
In all three films mentioned, Black Widow, Basic instinct and Bound the female sexuality suggests juxtaposition between desire and death (Tasker, 92). Every one of the femme fatales mentioned want desire from the male characters; however they also want to see them dead. Throughout I have looked at and examined the extent of women being able to resist and move beyond conventional heterosexual relations, in relation to the femme fatale and the queering of neo-noir. In Bound the femme fatale notices and realises how a women can satisfy her physically and mentally more than a man can.
Bound is also similar to Back Widow, Alex the data analyser is more interested in following and tracking Catherine to the point of obsession, than rather going on heterosexual dates. Nonetheless in Basic instinct the lipstick femme has queer relationships; however she does have heterosexual relationships as well but exploits them as research for her novels. The femmes seem to have found excitement and satisfaction from homosexual relations and can trust women more than they can trust men, which makes them better sexual partners and partners in crime.