Mia Hansen-Løve is simultaneously a minimalist and a maximalist: she creates huge, highly detailed worlds only to lavish attention on minute details and interactions; her films tend to span years, even decades, but are structured around huge elisions and absences. Hansen-Løve largely constructs entire narratives out of the stuff that most filmmakers consider filler, thereby creating a slippery, impressionistic sensation of the passing of time that’s based on an odd combination of drift and momentum – her characters are entangled in a constant piling up of seemingly insignificant moments, failing to register the gradual changes that are occurring around them until they’ve accumulated into huge changes.
Although propelled by the sweeping cultural transitions that occur within particular subcultures over a long period, Hansen-Løve is mainly interested in the elements that remain static or constant. Her protagonists are usually characterized by a single, all-consuming passion (for a career, an object, another person), but rather than portray this passion as grand and noble, she paints it as essentially unhealthy; this devotion, on some level, functions as a way to self-justify their own aloofness and evade their other, more substantial problems. To add to this list of contradictions that make up Hansen-Løve’s cinema, she sets subdued performances and intuitive camerawork (favouring calligraphic tracking shots and long takes that continuously reframe action) against painterly compositions stuffed with reflective and diffuse light, often making exteriors resemble impromptu Manet paintings.
1. Cinematographer Pascal Auffray
2. Multinational casts
3. Film Maudits – she’s spoken enthusiastically about her love of the widely maligned masterpieces Showgirls, Eyes Wide Shut and Heaven’s Gate.
Did you know?
Hansen-Løve briefly worked as a critic for the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma.
She got her start in the industry as an actress during her teens, with small roles in Late August, Early September and Sentimental Dentinies.
Hansen-Løve is married to the filmmaker Olivier Assayas, director of Summer Hours, Demonlover and Carlos, among others.
The Film You Should Watch: Eden, Hansen-Løve’s chronicle of the rise and fall of French House Music