This thesis provides an analysis of audience responses to four case study films, Amélie (Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, 2001), The Dreamlife of Angels (La Vie rêvée des anges, 1998), Faithless (Trolösa, 2000) and Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål, 1998). The empirical data was collected at screenings in Hampshire and West Sussex in 2005.
The author argues that contextual factors are equally or more important than the film text itself when it comes to determining its potential meanings. The study explores how cultural differences and preconceptions about French, Swedish and European culture among British film audiences influence their approaches to specific films. In the process, the research provides a British reception perspective on the relationship between British, European and American film cultures.
The findings challenge assumptions about detached, analytical art cinema audiences, suggesting that European cinema in Britain can function as an escape from everyday reality and provide viewers with strong emotional experiences. The author discusses gendered differences that can be observed in the audience research findings, but acknowledges that viewer identities are multifaceted and complex.
The thesis sheds light on the relationship between academic studies of film consumption and market research carried out by the film industry, and the findings have implications beyond the discipline of film studies, intersecting with debates in sociology, cultural studies, and psychological theories relating to human perception.