Ethics, gender and vulnerability in the films of Mia Hansen-Løve

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This article introduces some contemporary philosophical approaches to vulnerability including that of Judith Butler, while focusing on feminist legal theorist Martha Albertson Fineman’s concept of the vulnerable subject, developed out of Fineman’s earlier critiques of the autonomous, self-sufficient subject of liberal political philosophy. It then looks closely at the different forms of vulnerability exhibited by the leading protagonists of Mia Hansen-Løve’s All Is Forgiven (2007), Father of My Children (2009), Goodbye First Love (2011), Eden (2014) and Maya (2018), all of whom except one are men, drawing on Lawrence Schehr’s writing about French postmodern masculinities and work by Geneviève Sellier on the changing dynamics of heterosexual gender relations in French cinema in order to forge an account of vulnerable male bodies and masculinities appropriate to the contemporary context(s) of the films discussed. To conclude, it returns to Fineman to suggest that her at least implicitly feminist concept of the vulnerable subject can offer a more persuasive account of the gendered character of vulnerability in Hansen-Løve’s films than can Butler’s recent ethical writings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-121
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • vulnerablity
  • ethics
  • gender
  • Mia Hansen-Løve
  • French cinema
  • Judith Butler
  • Vulnerability
  • Autonomy
  • Dependency
  • Martha Fineman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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