The Sensation of the Look: The Gazes in Laurence Anyways

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the gazes, looks, stares and glares in Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, 2012), and examines their affective, interpretive, and symbolic qualities, and their potential to create viewer empathy through affect. The cinematic gaze can produce sensations of shame and fear, by offering a sequence of varied “encounters” to which viewers can react, before we have been given a character onto which we can deflect them, thus bypassing the representational, narrative and even the sympathetic power of the medium to create “raw”, apparently unmediated sensations. Through the point-of-view shot and direct address, the viewer is the object of the gazes it receives, and experiences their hate and rejection before actually being presented with the film’s narrative object of the gaze – the film’s protagonist, a transgender woman named Laurence. It examines how the viewer, after being affected, interprets and misinterprets the emotions behind the gazes, and then cognitively attaches the gazes’ importance to the narrative. It analyses how the gazes not only create viewer empathy for Laurence, but also create a shared experience between Laurence and the viewer that enhances this empathic connection. It concludes by considering the symbolic importance of the gaze, and Laurence’s desire for the gaze as a marker of agency and acknowledgement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Xavier Dolan
  • affect
  • empathy
  • film phenomenology
  • gaze
  • transgender experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'The Sensation of the Look: The Gazes in Laurence Anyways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this