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Grist, L. (2017). Possession and Lack: The Phallus, Post-Feminism and The Long Kiss Goodnight. Free Associations, 18(1):1-33.

(2017). Free Associations, 18(1):1-33

Possession and Lack: The Phallus, Post-Feminism and The Long Kiss Goodnight

Leighton Grist

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) is a high-concept Hollywood female action film, part of a generic development that has tended to address matters of gender and identity, and correspondingly to challenge and/or transgress patriarchal norms. Indeed, the film, which revolves around an amnesiac, female government agent who rediscovers her previous self, not only can be regarded as being explicitly ‘about’ identity and its gendered constitution, but its representation of the determination of identity suggests more than a little apprehension of Lacanian psychoanalysis, something that the article takes as a starting point for a primarily Lacanian reading that runs both with and against the apparent grain of the text. That noted, as The Long Kiss Goodnight proceeds, so there is a recuperation of its arguably transgressive representation of gender, and a correlative shift from its implication of Lacanian psychoanalysis to that of ego-psychology: the American ‘other’ against which Jacques Lacan placed his ‘return to Freud’. As much begs the question of the film's historical contextualization, regarding which the article enters the uncertain and contested realm of post-feminism. Critically and theoretically, moreover, the article elaborates upon the combination of semiotics, psychoanalysis and Marxism that, through its association with a British film journal, been dubbed ‘Screen Theory’. While this is a body of work that has of late become embattled, the article seeks, in its consideration of The Long Kiss Goodnight, to demonstrate that it remains a solid grounding for analysis that is both textually precise and offers illuminating reference through and beyond the specific film texts studied.

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