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Hal Hartley$
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Mark L. Berrettini

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252035951

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252035951.001.0001

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Efficiency, Estrangement, and Antirealism

Efficiency, Estrangement, and Antirealism

The Films of Hal Hartley

(p.1) Efficiency, Estrangement, and Antirealism
Hal Hartley

Mark L. Berrettini

University of Illinois Press

This chapter presents a commentary on Hal Hartley's film career. It begins with a biographical sketch based on material included in interviews, reviews, and essays about Hartley's work, and an earlier version of his official website, possiblefilms.com. It then moves on to analyze seven feature films: The Unbelievable Truth (1989), Trust (1990), Simple Men (1992), Amateur (1994), Henry Fool, Fay Grim (2006), and The Book of Life (1998). These films show that efficiency, estrangement, and antirealism allow Hartley to chart the struggles of individuals against the ideological precepts that pertain to public and private behavior, responsible actions, “common sense,” and the cinematic conventions that support such ideologies. (e.g., romantic characters who will live “happily ever after”).These conflicts are often related to the restrictions posed by gender norms and are depicted as conflicts with authority figures. Hartley's male protagonists struggle to live up to popular ideals of heteronormative masculinity, control, and violent mastery of the world around them, while his central female characters break from heteronormative conceptions of women as mothers, caregivers, and/or sexual objects.

Keywords:   Hal Hartley, American filmmaking, film directors, Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Simple Men, Amateur, Henry Fool, Fay Grim

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