|dc.description.abstract||The femme fatale archetype has been used extensively for years in cinema and is
significantly associated with film noir (Place 1978). The femme fatale is described as a
woman of danger and seduction whose ambitions place her in opposition to her male
counterpart, so she must be reminded of her place in society (Place 1978, Smith 2017,
Grossman 2007). This is usually shown by either forcing the femme fatale to forgo her
ambitions and conform to the role society expects of her, or she is killed because she refuses
to conform (Smith 2017).
In recent cinema, noir or even neo-noir films are a rarity as the mixing of genre in films
becomes increasingly popular as Durgnat (1974) and Shrader (1972) argue that noir is a style
rather than a genre. Modern neo-noir films are often paired with a more dominant genre like
Drive (Refn, 2011) which is a neo-noir film paired with the narrative and archetypes familiar
with a western. Due to this there have been arguments as to whether or not modern female
characters can be discussed as femme fatales or if there are better terms to describe them
(Farrimond 2017 and Grossman 2007).
The terminology used in this dissertation will be provided by scholarship and expanded upon
using analysis. Multiple definitions of the femme fatale will be presented from numerous
scholars to provide context to the arguments made in this project. The terms ‘detective
figure’, ‘anti-hero’ and ‘hardboiled female character’ (Smith 2017 and Grossman 2007) will
be mentioned and it will be ascertained whether or not these terms could be used to describe
modern female characters.
In this dissertation I seek to explore the role of the femme fatale in 21st century cinema using
relevant scholarship alongside the films Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014) and A Simple Favour
The questions this dissertation poses are:
Is the term ‘femme fatale’ the best way to describe lead female characters in 21st century
Are these lead female characters marked by increasing complexity?
The characters of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) and Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) will be
explored in order to answer these questions, however supporting characters will also be paid
attention to. Gone Girl and A Simple Favour will be analysed as noir films using both
iconography and narrative structure in order to provide further context to the arguments