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Noir Affect$
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Christopher Breu and Elizabeth A. Hatmaker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287802

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287802.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Surplus Feelings: Neoliberal Noir and the Affective Economy of Debt

Surplus Feelings: Neoliberal Noir and the Affective Economy of Debt

(p.222) Chapter 10 Surplus Feelings: Neoliberal Noir and the Affective Economy of Debt
Noir Affect

Alexander Dunst

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the dramatization of debt in two contemporary noir films by Danish-American director Winding Refn. A financialized obligation, debt is ceaselessly bought, sold, and securitized. At the same time, debt creates and sustains a social economy of affect that moves within and between people as it crisscrosses our planet. Drive and Only God Forgives tell stories about working-class families, drifters, and small-time crooks to explore the guilt, distrust, and despondency set in motion by a present that remains forever in debt to the past and cannot discern a future. Incapable of repaying what he owes, Drive’s nameless protagonist finds that debt breeds ever more debt. This constant increase, or excess, situates Refn’s characters as biopolitical relays for the monetized consumption and free production of sexuality and violence, and thus the surplus jouissance on which both capital and cinema feed. Set in Los Angeles and Bangkok at the intersection of migratory and financial flows, Refn imagines a global shadow economy of money laundering and drugs. Yet Refn's meditation on the relationship between debt and violence also ponders the possibility of forgiveness within a system determined to uphold financial measurements of social interaction.

Keywords:   affect, biopolitics, debt, Drive, economics, film, neoliberalism, noir, Only God Forgives, Winding Refn

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