"Nikita" (1990) is the story of a nineteen-year old junkie, Nikita (Anne Parillaud) who is given a second chance in life through being trained to be - and becoming - a skilled assassin for the State. "Nikita" is a cult classic, directed by Luc Besson (with Thierry Arbogast as director of photography) in his hallmark powerful style. The film was an international hit, which spawned a TV series and a Hollywood remake. Susan Hayward develops here a fresh and provocative way of understanding "Nikita"'s plot structure as a neo-baroque symphony. She goes in depth into key sequences of the film, examines its reception as a popular film by audiences and critics, and looks at "The Assassin", the Hollywood remake of "Nikita". This is a wonderfully exciting book on an underrated film. It also shows that the woman placed at the centre of a film noir can', as Susan Hayward points out, 'for once win - or at least 'get away with it".
Susan Hayward is Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Exeter. Her many publications in French Cinema include 'French Film: Texts and Contexts'; 'French National Cinema'; 'Luc Besson: Filmmaker and Bard'; 'Simone Signoret: The Star as Cultural Sign', and 'Les Diaboliques: French Film Guide' (I.B.Tauris, 2005). She is also the author of 'Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts' (currently in its third edition).