Transcending ‘Cold Intimacies’ in Veiko Õunpuu’s Works

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Abstract

This article examines five films by Veiko Õunpuu, Estonia’s most renowned contemporary director – Empty (Tühirand, Estonia, 2006), Autumn Ball (Sügisball, Estonia, 2007), Temptations of St Tony (Püha Tõnu kiusamine, Estonia/Finland/Sweden, 2009), Free Range: Ballad on Approving of the World (Free Range: ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest, Estonia, 2013) and Roukli (Estonia, 2015), focusing on his representations of neoliberalism and especially its effect on the emotional and intimate lives of the characters. We argue that the characters of his films typically reject the conventional romance promoted by neoliberal discourses, including Hollywood cinema, yet this does not make them happy, but disoriented and restless. The repudiation of ‘emotional capitalism’ also pertains to the way Õunpuu’s films are conceived and executed. Most importantly, he resists the conventions of Hollywood cinema, including a classical script and happy ending, and also sets and shoots his films in peripheral places. Our main theoretical framework is the concept of ‘emotional capitalism’ as elaborated by Eva Illouz.

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