From ‘Bad Education’ to ‘Mulholland Drive,’ the Modern Femme Fatale Must Be Queer

This essay is by our guest writer, Cody Corrall.
The classic femme fatale is elusive. She is a film noir staple: Gilda and Honey West. She uses her sexuality as a weapon against the patriarchy, but is inevitably foiled for having challenged it. Since the creation of the femme fatale, however, there hasn’t been a modern version that holds up. This is because the femme fatale, while a beacon of sexuality, is inherently a political statement.
In the height of film noir in the 1940s and 1950s, the rights of the straight cisgendered white woman were the next to be fought for. While these rights may not have been fully achieved yet, the rise of feminism and liberation have weeded out the femme fatale from modern cinema. This archetype no longer fits the rebellion and desire for power of the femme fatale. In order for a femme fatale to work in today’s society, it must be queered. We see these modern depictions of the queer femme fatale in Pedro Almodovar’s 2004 film Bad Education, and in David Lynch’s 2001 cult classic Mulholland Drive.

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