Summary: In her study The Desire to Desire, the feminist film scholar Mary Ann Doane examines how a potential excess of female desire in 1940s melodramas is neutralized with the help of either a male ‘medical gaze’ or a male musician and his ear. The philosopher Stanley Cavell, however, criticizes Doane for adopting a patriarchal perspective. According to Cavell, the women in these films are not self-sacrificing victims whose bodily symptoms are adequately read by a doctor; rather, the female protagonists are intriguing because they exceed conventional labeling – notwithstanding their often unfortunate situations. By taking as a lead Cavell’s idea that these films stage the idiosyncrasies of the ‘unknown woman’, this article analyzes Joachim Trier’s supernatural thriller Thelma (2017) in tandem with the earlier melodramas. Raised in a strictly religious environment, Thelma struggles with desire, with a sense of guilt, and with the superego. The best alternative to escape this deadlock is for Thelma to develop her ‘personal eccentricity’, as a woman in between categories, in the vein of Charlotte Vale, the protagonist of Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942), one of the melodramas favored by Cavell.
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Addiction Aggression Applied psychoanalysis Architecture Art Body Case study Collecting Death death drive desire ethics Fantasy Freud Gaze Hysteria Institution Institutional Psychotherapy interpretation Jacques Lacan Jouissance Lacan Language Literature Memory Narcissism Object a Oedipus Outsider Art psychoanalyse Psychoanalysis Psychose Psychosis Real Repetition Repression Sade Signifier Subject Sublimation Transference Trauma Unconscious Violence Writing