Anne Fontaine’s latest film, Nathalie… (2003) draws comparison with François Truffaut’s 1981 film, La Femme d’à Côté (The Woman Next Door), in that it features a relationship between Fanny Ardant and Gérard Depardieu. The couple could be seen to have evolved from a passionate relationship, as depicted by Truffaut, to one devoid of passion. Moreover, both films are narrated from a woman’s point of view. Similarities between the two films stop here, however, for Nathalie…’s central interest rests on the relationship between two women of different age and background and focuses on their creation of a fantasmatic situation. The attention towards the creation of a feminine cinematic space raises the significant cinematographic question of the enunciator’s position as producer of the fiction. For contrary to classical cinema, where the source of enunciation controlling the discourse and the narrative logic is usually suppressed, in Fontaine’s film this is a position which is rendered visible within the narrative and is, moreover, occupied by a woman. Nathalie… centres around Catherine’s decision to hire a prostitute when she learns that her husband occasionally cheats on her. With her help, she creates a female character, Nathalie, and the filmic story – ‘herstory’ – both of which she directs.
In this article, my aim is to consider the political impact of enunciation that the film raises. A close study of Fontaine’s film will reveal its attempt to challenge the masculine logic inherent in mainstream narrative cinema. My intention will be to show how Nathalie… manages to supplant hierarchical oppositions and divisions to enable alternative enunciative positions, defined in terms of fluidity and diversity, to be considered.