Desiring Oedipus in Stephen Frears’s The Grifters

  • Author(s): Melissa Tanti
  • When: 2011-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Stephen Frears’s, The Grifters, appears to be a classic tale of Oedipal desire. The desiring relationship between a conman and his mother is established early on as a central tension in the film, however, read through René Girard’s schemata of mimetic desire the escalation of this relationship and the ensuing violence will be interpreted as products of a mimetic rivalry between the mother and a lover. This essay will show the way in which Girard’s schemata seeks to liberate Oedipus from the structure of desire posited by Freud, introducing the notion of the scapegoat and its redemptive function into a latticework of relationships that extend beyond the triangular structure of Freudian conceptions of desire.

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