“To know who you really are, not who you’d like to be”: masculinity and melancholy in Cesc Gay’s Fiction (2006)

Antoni Maestre-Brotons


The films of Cesc Gay (Barcelona, 1967) draw a complex portrayal of the collapse of hegemonic or traditional masculinity. In most cases, the male characters of the films are trapped between a conservative pattern—which is tied to patriarchy, marriage, family and heterosexuality—and a more flexible prototype that breaks away from conservative gender, sexual and family rules. This shift reflects what Anderson (2009) calls “inclusive masculinity”, existing in cultures of diminished “homohysteria”. In Fiction (2006), Àlex, the male protagonist, a married man and a father of two children, is unable to move on to that new understanding of masculinity and gender and sexual relations. Marriage and family entail a sacrifice, a loss, imprisonment. He remains bound up with an unattainable idealised self—“who you really are”—that only lives in his imagination. By drawing on psychoanalysis and affect theory, I argue that the scripts he writes, the portraits he looks at or the mirrors that reflect his face point at that other self with which he has a melancholic/narcissistic relationship as the lost loved object he mourns.

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