French cinema, through state encouragement, co-production and accommodation with television, is continuing to produce a varied and interesting body of work. The dichotomy that began with 'Lumière' and 'Méliès', between 'reality' and 'fantasy', is at once an unsustainable and an ever-present one. The cinéma du look fantasies are rooted in the realities of post-industrial France, much as the careful attention to period detail of the heritage film is a latter-day variant of poetic realism, a fantasy of history. La Haines central characters 'escape' to urban Paris for much of the film, but it is a fantasy that turns to nightmare when they are brutalised at the police station, and even the most traditionally beautiful province of all, Y aura-t-il de la neige à Noël? shows, can be no less brutalising in its way. In that interplay, if anywhere, the continuity, and thus the sense, of 'French national cinema' - and doubtless of any cinema at all - can be seen to reside.

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