Respectus Philologicus
Respectus Philologicus
Download

Respectus Philologicus eISSN 2335-2388
2022, no. 42 (47), pp. 24–36 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15388/RESPECTUS.2022.42.47.105

The Persuasive Function of the Title as a “Movere” Tool in Journalistic Film Reviews

Dominika Topa-Bryniarska
University of Silesia in Katowice, Institute of Linguistics
Bankowast. 12, 40-007 Katowice, Poland
Email: dominika.topa@us.edu.pl
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4646-7899
Research interests: rhetoric, pragmatics, argumentation theory, media discourse

Abstract. Based on theories in pragmatics, rhetoric, argumentation and discourse analysis, the genre of “journalistic film review”, relatively little examined, has been analysed in this paper as a discourse reflecting a justified assessment. Our analysis, presented as a case study, concerns the persuasive function of the titles of 53 French and francophone film reviews. In this analysis, the act of persuasion, anchored in Perelman’s (1971) concept of argumentation, corresponds to the rhetorical structure of public discourse. For the act of persuasion, we focus on discursive and stylistic parameters related to the rhetorical principle of “movere” as the basis of the film review’s deliberative (advisory and justifying) dimension. The role of this dimension is to invite the addressee to co-create the meaning of the discourse through the process of co-schematisation, implemented with the help of emotional argumentation in the form of appraisive and affective lexemes. These stylistic devices also constitute a mechanism of persuasion typical of advertising discourse.

Keywords: film review; title; deliberative dimension; movere; stylistic device; co-schematisation.

Submitted 22 May 2022 / Accepted 30 August 2022
Įteikta 2022 05 22 / Priimta 2022 08 30
Copyright © 2022 Dominika Topa-Bryniarska. Published by Vilnius University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original author and source are credited.

Introduction

Certain areas of human communication, such as mass media, are characterised by inexhaustible verbal creativity, providing a fascinating field for linguistic reflection. Such is the case for journalistic film reviews, which belong to a hybrid and dynamic universe of contemporary media focusing on communicative efficiency and combining information with persuasion. However, the journalistic film review is relatively understudied from the point of view of its persuasiveness (cf.: Krauz, 2004; Baud, 2003; Silva et al., 2018; Onursal, 2006; Taboada, 2011), although it is currently one of the most widely read journalistic genres, addressing a large and diverse audience in today’s consumer society. The study of film reviews has been primarily undertaken to assess their influence and potential prediction effects on film demand (Eliashberg, Shugan, 1997), to illustrate how they differ from professional film criticism (O’Regan, Walmsley-Evans, 2015) and online consumer (non-expert) critics (de Jong, Burgers, 2013), or to describe their rhetorical structure (Bordwell, 1989). Since less attention has been devoted to the issue of how film journalists tend to persuade their audience, we aim to answer this question by focusing on the persuasive dimension of the film review genre on the example of review titles. As the primary function of the title is to attract attention, which tends to be very dispersed in the present age of information overload, the title itself has to be the most salient unit in the film review and the one where the persuasive construction of the genre takes place. This issue refers to emotional argumentation (Macagno, Walton, 2014) because, as Krauz (2004, p. 147) notes, in the film review genre, the persuasive function dominates over the informational one.

For our study, we have selected the titles of 53 French and francophone film reviews. From a methodological point of view, the starting point of our analysis is to bring together favourable and unfavourable journalistic reviews of different film genres and to examine the persuasive function of the reviews’ titles in terms of their stylistic devices activating emotional appeal. The described devices relate to the rhetorical principle of “movere”, which aims to foster particular views and concepts. In this case, stylistics is closely intertwined with rhetoric (cf.: Lambrou, Durant, 2014, p. 506).

It is worth noting that we do not focus on professional reviews addressed to film experts, which may contain relatively more objective and formal descriptions. The journalistic film review genre examined in our paper is clearly different from academic film criticism (Golio-Lété, Vanoye, 2020). Film criticism and film reviewing are often regarded as separate disciplines (e.g. O’Regan, Walmsley-Evans, 2015), although they help understand the film’s meaning and its technical elements.

1. Journalistic film review as a genre

The journalistic film review genre depends on many social and rhetorical contextual factors, such as the communicative purpose, place, and method of use. Miller (1984, p. 151) observes that the social and rhetorical context determines a particular genre seen as “typified actions based in recurrent situations”. We will therefore approach film reviews as a pragmatically-oriented genre, defined by situational criteria or “Type 2 genres” (fr. genre institué de mode 2) (Maingueneau, 2017, p. 3), which belongs to a broad spectrum of cultural criticism (Rieffel, 2006, p. 56), along with theatre, music, and book reviews. The purpose of the film review genre is to perform a critical and explanatory assessment that informs people about current works and cultural phenomena by means of subjective, evaluative analysis. The journalistic film review is expected not only to inform readers about a specific film but also to draw attention to it in such a way as to encourage or discourage the potential viewer from going to the cinema, providing what we expect to be a justified assessment. On the one hand, the review represents the content of the film in order to guide and inspire the addressees in their cinematographic choices (Baud, 2003, p. 39). On the other hand, as a journalistic opinion-forming genre serving the needs of the addresser, who wants to act as a competent advisor and expert for the audience, the film review can be regarded as a genre particularly useful for expressing personal views on cultural facts, and therefore can be expected to be dominated by value judgments (Krauz, 2004, p. 147; Onursal, 2006, p. 265, Taboada, 2011, pp. 256, 259; Bogołębska, 2018, p. 89).

Since it is the evaluation process in a film review which we consider most central to its purpose, we are justified in focusing on the stylistic devices related to that persuasive function (cf.: Miall, 2014). Herein lies the potential for creating or strengthening (and the danger of manipulating) attitudes and ideas about reality (Graff, Winn, 2006, pp. 45–71), which leads us to reflect on the rhetorical principle known as “movere”. According to Ciceronian rhetoric, “movere” (Powell, 2013, p. 53) is the function of influencing the addressee’s will to persuade them to adopt the presented opinion or by emotionally moving them or inciting them to action based on knowledge, tastes, and beliefs to which the addresser wishes to refer in the context of a specific, pragmatic situation. This possibility of rallying the audience to the reviewer’s opinion, connected with the persuasive expression of value judgments (movere”) in the film review genre, constitutes the primary subject of this paper. Such focus serves several purposes. First, it allows us to look at the act of persuasion globally, in the spirit of the new rhetoric (Perelman, Olbrechts-Tyteca, 1971) as well as Amossy’s (2012, 2015) theory of argumentation and Grize’s (1996) natural logic where the choice of adequate stylistic devices serves not only to present an opinion but also to rhetorically and pragmatically orient the discourse to the vision the addresser wishes the audience to adopt (cf.: Bogołębska, 2018). Substantially, persuasion is a cognitive process triggered or implemented by messages that can affect the behaviours of individuals and their worldviews (Borchers, 2013). Therefore, when formulating value judgments, the addresser uses persuasive elements, leading to the generation of specific psychological (perlocutionary) effects in the addressee. These include, for example, curiosity, amusement, agitation, or doubt (cf.: Kalisz, 1993, p. 54). Consequently, “discourse analysis”, as we understand it, in this case, should be considered to be concerned more with the rhetorical structure of public discourse than with the knowledge-power relationship formulated by Foucault (cf.: Doury, Plantin, 2005).

Secondly, due to the chosen perspective, in light of semantics, pragmatics, and rhetoric, the stylistic realisation of the rhetorical function of movere” allows us to draw attention to persuasive methods in today’s journalistic film reviews. These aspects do not change in their convention or form, nor do they generally relate to a specific topic, but are modified only at the level of stylistic devices – which the addresser adjusts to the type of audience and subject matter in question. Thirdly, the film review genre focuses on critical interpretation and analysis, in which the subjective factor plays an important role and enables the co-creation with the addressee of a sociocultural platform of shared beliefs, values, and emotions. Since the addresser in persuasive discourse always attempts to establish a kind of “shared territory” that favours “common visions and solutions” (Bülow-Møller, 2005, p. 28), we can call this process co-schematisation, following Grize’s (1996) natural logic. The fundamental concept of natural logic is schematisation, i.e. how speaker A constructs a discursive representation that listener B reconstructs based on the information speaker A communicates. A must present a statement that B does not challenge and considers a valid opinion. In this sense, we see the process of co-schematisation as creating a “verbal image” or “micro-world” – to use Grize’s explanation (1996, pp. 121–123) – in which the addressee is invited to co-create the meaning of the review’s discursive universe (cf.: Baldi, 2020). In these circumstances, the addresser proposes a specific point of view to elicit compliance with the audience and recommend or discommend a particular film.

Within this framework, we will then focus – in the following section – on the process of co-schematisation, showing how the addresser intends to shape a relationship with the addressee, thus implementing a selective interpretation of the described phenomena through the persuasive function of the title in the film review genre. In this context, as with typical press headlines, titles are primarily intended to interest the audience and draw their attention to the text, following the principle of information attractiveness at play in contemporary media. The condensed form of the headlines – similar to that of advertising slogans – plays an essential role in the process of co-schematisation and encourages interaction by causing a “spontaneous and emotional reaction [...] in the audience” (Adam, Bonhomme, 1997, pp. 59–60) (our translation).

2. Method: emotional argumentation in the persuasive function of the title

The list of titles collected for our study is thematically coherent (films on social themes) derived from 53 French and francophone reviews relating to two different film genres (comedy and drama). The films discussed in the reviews were released in the last eight years. All the texts (both favourable and unfavourable) appeared after the premieres of the described films and concern two French comedies: Serial (Bad) Weddings (2014) (fr. Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?) and C’est la vie! (2017) (fr. Le sens de la fête), and two remarkable dramas that won significant awards at renowned film festivals: Joker (2019, USA) and Parasite (2019, South Korea). All these productions enjoyed great popularity in many countries, and many reviews have been written about them in the press and on the internet. The intended addressees of the collected review are heterogeneous, including a diverse group of potential viewers and a narrower audience of cinema enthusiasts. For this reason, the review titles come from both generally accessible French and francophone internet platforms on information and culture, and from the websites of the general press. The collected titles are French and francophone since French is our working and research language, so the choice of such data seemed natural to us in order to carry out a valid and well-founded analysis. A list of only 53 review titles is, of course, a small one with which to examine the persuasive function of the title thoroughly, but we hope to provide a sufficient preliminary analysis of its main stylistic features to mark the beginning of this sort of study and support further persuasive research. We believe that the selected empirical material will allow us to better grasp the phenomenon of the stylistic devices of movere”, first at the micro-scale – i.e. as a specific case study concerning the titles of only two film genres – and then, in the course of subsequent analyses, at the macro scale, based on titles in other film genres to capture more significant generalisations. This paper constitutes the first stage of our research project.

A review’s title generally includes the overall assessment of the film and some essential facts for the addressee, often surprising or controversial. The choice of a suggestive title is intended to make the message more attractive, present the author’s position, and prepare the audience for a meeting with the text. In this case, the title in the film review genre becomes a rhetorical-pragmatic communication tool, acting as its persuasive label. It also becomes a kind of “advertisement,” a text in itself, and “a mine of knowledge for those who try to describe the strategies that create discourse” (Charaudeau, 1983, p. 101) (our translation).

Emotional argumentation, activating the persuasive function of the title of the review in our case study, highlights the relationship between the addresser and the addressee, which is supposed to be used for co-schematisation, i.e. for building a specific relationship to the described reality. This co-schematisation is part of the deliberative (advisory and justifying)1 dimension of the film review genre, the purpose of which is to provide a justified assessment. This means that the rhetorical principle of movere” will correspond to the persuasive intent of the addresser, which is to lead the addressee to support the opinion presented and perceive the described film in a positive or negative light as a result of reference to specific values and/or connotations. This is how the emotional argumentation in the title corresponds not so much to “communicating emotions” but rather “communicating through emotions” (Plantin, 2011, pp. 139–141).

The mechanism of “emotive hetero-attribution” (fr. hétéro-attribution de l’émotion) within what Plantin (2011, pp. 135–141) calls “discursive construction of emotions” (fr. la construction discursive des émotions), can create or manipulate the audience’s emotions, e.g. in order to neutralise the critical sense of the addressee. Moreover, emotional argumentation works best in a specific sociocultural group value system because – unlike logical (rational) argumentation – it cannot be considered true but rather appropriate. Therefore, the strategic use of the persuasive function of the title consists in planning – at the very beginning of the review – the expected psychological (perlocutionary) effects that are considered most appropriate and close to the audience in order to reduce the temporal-spatial distance in the discourse and interest the largest possible group of addressees. In this way, the title of the review resembles a specific type of advertising (or anti-advertising) of a film, containing evaluative expressions. All these rhetorical-pragmatic endeavours give the title the form of personalised communication, imitating friendly dialogue and thus building a relationship of trust, which, however, is deceptive because the entire communication process remains under the control of the addresser, especially when it comes to strengthening or weakening the opinion of the addressee-viewer concerning the film under review.

The persuasive function of the title allows the use of various discursive and stylistic means of emotionalisation and evaluation, which, on the perlocutionary level, help direct the reception of the review genre, the aim of which is to activate the addressee and invite them to participate in the discursive universe created by the addresser.

3. Analysis: two groups of persuasive lexis

Among the methods mentioned above for the process of co-schematisation through value judgments, we distinguish two lexical groups of emotional argumentation in our analysis. These groups, although constituting only a contribution to the study of the complex universe of movere”, allow us to capture two of the possible applications of the persuasive function in media headlines – that of serving to express subjectivism in the language (cf.: Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 1999, pp. 80–81, 94–96), and that of intensifying and dynamising the discourse.

3.1 Appraisive lexis

The first lexical group includes appraisive lexemes derived from both the conventional and the contextual use of language. The role of these lexemes is twofold. On the one hand, they help create a clear, axiological focus by unambiguously evaluating the film (cf.: Macagno, Walton 2014, pp. 5–7). On the other hand, these lexemes also serve to dynamise the discourse. In other words, the addresser-reviewer attributes a particular (de)valuing classification to the film and the general evaluative assumption that the film is good or bad. Such an axiologically intensified title becomes more concise and engaging to make the addressee feel the same way as the reviewer. The aim of this procedure is primarily to achieve persuasive suggestiveness when describing specific features of the film so that the viewer gets the impression that the addresser is expressing their true opinions and gets them involved in the interaction by building not only common assessments, emotions, and values but also trust and identification, thus legitimising the ethos of the advisor and expert on the subject.

Therefore, when describing selected features of the film using negatively or positively marked adjectives or nouns, the reviewer tries to convince the addressee of their assessment by means of emotive hetero-attribution (cf.: Plantin, 2011, p. 135) with a marked deliberative dimension, discouraging (1)–(3) or encouraging (4)–(9) the audience from watching a specific film:

(1) Nakache and Toledano in middling form (fr. Nakache et Toledano en moyenne forme) (Les Echos, 3 Oct. 2017)2

(2) “Serial (Bad) Weddings” deemed racist in the United States (fr. « Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu » jugé raciste aux États-Unis) (LaDepeche, 11 Oct. 20140) [Accessed 11 Feb. 2021]

(3) Harmful classes [fr. Les classes nuisibles] (Cinoche, 24 Oct. 2019) [Accessed 11 Feb. 2021]

(4) “Parasite”, the deserved triumph of an iconoclastic filmmaker (fr. « Parasite », le triomphe mérité d’un cinéaste iconoclaste) (Le Point, 06 Jun. 2019)

(5) The family miracle (fr. Le miracle en famille) (La Vie, 13 May 2014)

(7) A good little comedy (fr. Une bonne petite comédie) (SensCritique, 21 Jul. 2017) [Accessed 11 February 2021]

(8) “Joker” is a pure cinematic delight (fr. « Joker » est un pur régal de cinéma) (Première, 7 Oct. 2019)

(9) Bong Joon-ho, scathing and virtuoso (fr. Bong Joon-ho, amer et virtuose) (Cineman, 3 Jun. 2019) [Accessed 12 Feb. 2021]

A positive evaluation may also be accompanied by the use of appraisive solid syntagms anchored in the rhetorical topos of “uniqueness”, as shown in (10)–(18):

(10) Must-see: the excellent “Parasite” (fr. À voir absolument : l›excellent « Parasite ») (France Info, 22 May 2019] [Accessed 22 May 2019]

(11) The art of comedy (fr. L’art de la comédie) (Le Soleil, 15 Dec. 2017)

(12) The masters of comedy are becoming untouchable (fr. Les maitres de la comédie deviennent intouchables)(Bulles de Culture, 4 October 2017) [Accessed 13 Feb. 2021]

(13) Palme d’Or and Film of the Year (fr. Palme d’or et film de l’année) (La Libre Belgique, 11 Sep. 2019]

(14) Best Picture Oscar 2020 (fr. Oscar 2020 du meilleur film) (Ouest France, 5 Jun. 2019)

(15) “Joker”, intricate masterpiece (fr. « Joker », chef d’œuvre complexe) (Le Suricate, 7 Oct. 2019]

(16) Very great cinema (fr. Du très grand cinéma) (Mondociné, 9 Oct. 2019) [Accessed 13 Feb. 2021]

(17) Joaquin Phoenix simply masterful as a fragile Joker in Todd Philip’s film (fr. Joaquin Phoenix tout simplement magistralen Joker fragile dans le film de Todd Philips) (La Libre Belgique, 3 Oct. 2019)

(18) Is Joaquin Phoenix the best Joker of all time? (fr. Joaquin Phoenix est-il le meilleur Joker de tous les temps?)(GQ Magazine, 8 Oct. 2019)

These strong appraisive expressions mean that the reviewed film – similarly to the described product in advertising discourse – is presented as the best, most unique representative of its category. Interestingly, in the analysed review titles, no syntagms containing strong negative appraisal appeared.

Using the discursive act of praising or criticising in the formulation of value judgments, the addresser dynamises the content, builds a hierarchy of values, and shapes the attitudes of addressees, influencing their interpretations of reality because this discourse suggests that other French comedies were, respectively, either better or worse. In this way, the reviewer resorts to linguistic subjectivism and emotionalisation, which take the form of intensifying modalisation, which leads to the rhetoric of the film review genre and an increase in its persuasiveness. The same is true of the use of affective lexis.

3.2 Affective lexis

The persuasive function of the title is also realised through the second group of lexemes, which strengthen the co-schematisation process by encouraging the audience to feel the same emotions as the addresser (cf.: Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 1999, pp. 95–96). Therefore, it is possible – as in advertising discourse – to influence perceptions of reality by describing the psychological (perlocutionary) effects or reactions that the film causes or can cause. Such an intensifying modalisation translates into the use of expressive lexemes, communicating emotions explicitly (direct affective lexemes) or implicitly (indirect affective lexemes).

In the case of direct affective lexemes, the emotional reaction of the addresser is described as context-free and in line with the feelings experienced while watching the film. In this case, the addresser-reviewer tries to “project” their enthusiasm or disappointment onto the addressee-viewer as part of emotive hetero-attribution (cf.: Plantin, 2011, p. 135). This affective involvement is constructed discursively in the analysed titles by using clear, unambiguously communicating emotion lexemes, which denote a particular feeling by its direct name, as illustrated in (19)–(24):

(19) Love at first sight (fr. Coup de coeur) (KinoCulture Montréal, 25 Oct. 2011) [Accessed 10 February 2021]

(20) Thrilling tragicomedy (fr. Tragicomédie palpitante) (Le Nouvel Obs, 25 May 2019)

(21) With its terrifying psychopath, “Joker” reshuffles the cards (fr. Avec son terrifiant psychopathe, « Joker » rebat les cartes) (La Voix du Nord, 8 Oct. 2019)

(22) Joaquin Phoenix, it is crazy (fr. Joaquin Phoenix, c’est fou) (France Soir, 8 Oct. 2019)

(23) “Joker”: initiation into madness (fr. « Joker »: l’initiation à la folie) (Bulles de Culture, 14 Oct.2019] [Accessed 12 Feb. 2021]

(24) Panic at the wedding (fr. Panique au mariage) (Le Parisien, 4 Oct. 2017)

Besides the direct transmission of emotions, it is also possible to communicate them by anchoring them in context, i.e. by suggesting effect by cause, metonymically. Then the emotions are transmitted through a verbal description of a specific behavioural (gesture, facial expressions, movement, voice) or physiological reaction, contextually referring to a given emotional state (cf.: Plantin, 2011, pp. 143–144), illustrated by such indirect affective lexemes as shown in (25)–(33):

(25) “C’est la vie!”, for the better and for the laughter (fr.« Le Sens de la fête », pour le meilleur et pour le rire) (Le Figaro, 3 Oct. 2017]

(26) You must run to see the Palme d’Or (fr. Il faut courir voir la palme d’or) (L’Express, 5 Jun. 2019)

(27) Millions of viewers said amen (fr. Des millions de spectateurs ont dit amen) (Télérama, 6 May 2014)

(28) “Joker” by Todd Philips: the incisive slap that nobody expected (fr. « Joker », de Todd Phillips: la claque incisive que personne n’attendait) (Le Mag du Ciné, 1 Nov. 2019) [Accessed 11 Feb. 2021]

(29) “Joker”, pitiful and nauseating clown (fr. « Joker », clown pitoyable et nauséabond) (La Croix, 9 Oct. 2019)

(30) “Joker”: no more laughing in the kingdom of comics (fr. « Joker »: fini de rire au royaume des comics) (Le Point, 9 Oct. 2019)

(31) Blood for blood against the social divide (fr. À sang pour sang contre la fracture sociale) (La Voix du Nord, n.d.)

(32) Hot in front (fr. Chaud devant) (La Croix, 3 Oct. 2017)

(33) The bourgeoisie on the verge of a nervous breakdown (fr. Bourgeois au bord de la crise de nerfs) (Metronews, 15 Apr. 2014) [Accessed 12 Feb. 2021]

The reviewer tries to arouse positive feelings in the addressee in (19)–(20) and (25)–(27) and discouragement and negative feelings in (21)–(24) and (28)–(33) by means of the emotional argumentation, appropriately reinforcing and dramatising the discourse to make it easier to remember and lead to the intended reactions concerning the film. The relationships between emotions, evaluation, and perception are strict. The discursive construction of emotions is a convenient persuasive procedure from the addresser’s perspective because even if the reviewer is not physically present, they can project their feelings and reactions on the addressee, thus enabling the maintenance of their ethos, and orientation of the assessment of the film relative to a specific system of values, which was also visible in the case of appraisive lexis.

This procedure of discursive construction of emotions in value judgments also allows the reviewer to activate the relationship of identification, leading to the presence of the addressee in the discourse in a way similar to the case in advertising. First, the addresser tries to create a feeling of closeness with the addressee because it is easier always to believe the one who “speaks our language” and feels as we do. This shortening of the distance in communication is possible thanks to affective lexis and reference to allegedly shared emotions, which encourage the viewer to participate in the addresser’s cinematic experience. Then, thanks to this co-schematisation, the addresser tries to reach the largest possible audience, as emotional argumentation is part of the “ad populum strategy” (cf.: Walton, 1992, pp. 65–75) because a commonly voiced opinion is more convincing than that of a single journalist. This strategy, as mentioned earlier, allows the addresser to be perceived as actively participating in shared reflection, making their ethos credible – that the reviewer is an advisor and expert on the subject. This procedure also activates the addressee, introducing them into the discursive universe of the addresser, which has been created as a place for the exchange of emotions and values.

The whole process of verbal (re)interpretation of reality makes it possible to intensify the discourse by influencing the sensitivity of the addressee-viewer in order to neutralise or weaken their rational judgment, which makes the lexis used a true communication of emotions through which it is even possible to obtain a completely unconditional acceptance of the reviewer’s evaluation.

Conclusion

The way titles are constructed for comedy and drama reviews stems from the advantages of pathos over logos. This seems to indicate some similar principles in strategies for making the message more attractive in multiple contemporary opinion-forming genres. However, this observation still requires verification on a more extensive and diverse body of data than the titles of reviews of two film genres. Based on the data from this case study, we can talk about “impression” type argumentation, which, in contrast to “classic” demonstrative argumentation from logos (cf.: Zarefsky, 2019, p. 34), thanks to intensifying modalisation, supports the process of dynamicisation of the reality presented in the analysed film review genre in order to attract and keep the addressee’s attention. It is also one of the most effective methods of creating an ethos of the addresser as a committed advisor and guide to choosing a good film: the title thus implements a selective, specific interpretation of reality within which, based on the process of co-schematisation, the addresser can shape the audience’s opinion through emotional argumentation.

This functional approach to the review title can be recognised as a typical pragmatic-rhetorical discursive action, where the analysed persuasive function is a pragmatic feature of the title, and suggestibility and subjectivism constitute its rhetorical features. This bipolar specificity results, in particular, from the complex potential of perlocutionary elements that help shape perception and opinion in such a way as to rally the audience to the presented viewpoint. Hence, this is but one step away from manipulation, which is not surprising in the context of the top-down aims of the titles of contemporary film reviews, which are intended to inform and arouse interest. For this reason, it can be assumed that emotions are among the essential elements of the understanding process.

On the other hand, the very use of expressive affective and evaluative lexis in the titles of the analysed reviews results from the persuasive strategy of quickly and effectively “catching” the addressee’s attention. In our opinion, this assumption is supported by the rhetorical principle of movere”, which exposes the deliberative dimension of persuasiveness, where the addresser, focused on planning the intended perlocutionary effects related to the discursive and stylistic aspects of emotional argumentation, tries to instil a specific point of view in the audience. Is not the addresser of the advertising message striving for the same? Does the persuasive function of the title have its macro-strategies independent of the film review genre? In other words, are the titles in film reviews just another form of journalistic opinion writing, or is there something more distinctive about them? In our opinion, it is worth looking for answers to these questions, especially in the context of still dynamically evolving mass communication.

Acknowledgments

This research activity is co-financed by the funds granted under the Research Excellence Initiative of the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland).

Sources

Newspapers and magazines websites:

Fiches du Cinéma <www.fichesducinema.com>

France-Soir <www.francesoir.fr>

GQ Magazine <www.gqmagazine.fr>

Le Journal du Montréal <www.journaldemontreal.com>

L’Express <www.lexpress.fr>

La Croix <www.la-croix.com>

La Libre Belgique <www.lalibre.be>

La Presse <www.lapresse.ca>

La Vie <www.lavie.fr>

La Voix du Nord <lavoixdunord.fr>

Le Devoir <www.ledevoir.com>

Le Journal du Dimanche <www.lejdd.fr>

Le Figaro <www.lefigaro.fr>

Le Nouvel Observateur <www.nouvelobs.com>

Le Parisien <www.leparisien.fr>

Le Point <www.lepoint.fr>

Le Quotidien du Cinéma <www.lequotidienducinema.com>

Le Soleil <www.lesoleil.com>

Le Suricate Magazine <www.lesuricate.org>

Libération <www.liberation.fr>

Les Échos <www.lesechos.fr>

Marianne <www.marianne.net>

Moustique <www.moustique.be>

Ouest-France <www.ouest-france.fr>

Paris Match <www.parismatch.com>

Première <www.premiere.fr>

So Film <www.sofilm.fr>

Sud Ouest <www.sudouest.fr>

Télérama www.telerama.fr

 

Internet platforms:

Abus de Ciné <www.abusdecine.com>

Arc Hebdo <www.archebdo.ch>

AVoir ALire <www.avoir-alire.com>

Bande A Part <www.bande-apart.fr>

Bulles de Culture <www.bullesdeculture.com>

Cinécure <www.cinecure.be>

Cinéfilic <www.cinefilic.com>

Cineman <www.cineman.ch>

Cineuropa <www.cineuropa.org>

Cinoche <www.cinoche.com>

Critikat <www.critikat.com>

Critique Film <www.critique-film.fr>

Culturopoing <www.culturopoing.com>

EcranLarge <www.ecranlarge.com>

France Info <www.francetvinfo.fr>

KinoCulture Montréal <www.kinoculturemontreal.com>

LADEPECHE <www.ladepeche.fr>

Le Mag du Ciné <www.lemagducine.fr>

L’Info Tout Court <www.l’infotoutcourt.com>

MEDIAFILM <www.mediafilm.ca>

Metronews <www.tv1info.fr>

Mondociné <www.mondocine.net>

SensCritique <www.senscritique.com>

VOIR <www.voir.ca>

References

Adam, J. M., Bonhomme, M., 1997. L’argumentation publicitaire. Rhétorique de l’éloge et de la persuasion. [Advertising Argumentation. Rhetoric of Praise and Persuasion]. Paris: Nathan. [In French].

Amossy, R., 2012. L’argumentation dans le discours. Nouvelle présentation. [Argumentation in discourse. A new presentation]. 3rd ed. Paris: Armand Colin. [In French].

Amossy, R., 2015. Quelle vocation empirique pour l’argumentation dans le discours ? [The Empirical Grounds of the Theory of ‘Argumentation in Discourse’]. Argumentation et Analyse du Discours, 15 [online] Available at: <https://journals.openedition.org/aad/2059> [Accessed 10 October 2021]. [In French].

Baldi, B., 2020. Persuasion we live by: symbols, metaphors and linguistic strategies. Quaderni di Linguistica e Studi Orientali, 6, pp. 337–382. https://doi: 10.13128/qulso-2421-7220-9706.

Baud, D., 2003. Analyse de genre: la critique de cinéma dans la presse quotidienne britannique. [Genre analysis: the film review in the British national daily press]. ASp. La revue du Geras, 39/40, pp. 37–45. https://doi: 10.4000/asp.1282. [In French].

Bogołębska, B., 2018. Współczesne gatunki i style wobec tradycji retorycznej. [Contemporary Genres and Styles in relation to the Rhetorical Tradition]. Łódź: Primum Verbum. [In Polish].

Borchers, T. A., 2013. Persuasion in the Media Age. Long Grove: Waveland Press.

Bordwell, D., 1989. Making Meaning. Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press.

Bülow-Møller, A. M., 2005. Persuasion in Business Negotiations. In: H. Halmari, T. Virtanen, eds. Persuasion Across Genres: A Linguistic Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 27–58.

Charaudeau, P., 1983. Eléments de sémiolinguistique [Elements of semiolinguistics]. Paris: Classiques Hachette. [In French].

De Jong, K. E. Burgers, Ch., 2013. Do consumer critics write differently from professional critics? A genre analysis of online film reviews. Discourse, Context and Media, 2, pp. 75–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2013.03.001.

Doury, M., Plantin, Ch., 2006. Une approche langagière et interactionnelle de l’argumentation. [A Discursive and Interactional Approach to Argumentation]. Argumentation et Analyse du Discours [Argumentation and Discourse Analysis], 15, [online] Available at: <https://journals.openedition.org/aad/2006> [Accessed 11 October 2021]. [In French].

Eliashberg, J., Shugan, S. M., 1997. Film critics: Influencers or predictors? Journal of Marketing, 61 (2), pp. 68–78. https://doi.org/10.1177/002224299706100205.

Golio-Lété, A., Vanoye, F., 2020. Précis d’analyse filmique. [Introduction to film analysis]. 5th ed. Paris: Armand Colin. [In French].

Graff, R., Winn, W., 2006. Presencing ‘Communion’ in Chaim Perelman’s New Rhetoric. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 39 (1), pp. 45–71. https://doi.org/10.5325/philrhet.39.1.0045.

Grize, J. B., 1996. Logique naturelle et communication. [Natural Logic and Communication]. Paris: PUF. [In French].

Kalisz, R., 1993. Pragmatyka językowa [Linguistic Pragmatics]. Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego. [In Polish].

Kerbrat-Orecchioni, C., 1999. L’énonciation. De la subjectivité dans le langage [Enunciation: On subjectivity in language]. Paris: Armand Colin. [In French].

Krauz, M., 2004. Recenzja – gatunek naukowy, krytycznoliteracki czy publicystyczny? [The review – a scientific, critical-literary or journalistic opinion-forming genre?] In: M. Ruszkowski, ed. Wielojęzyczność w perspektywie stylistyki i poetyki [Multilingualism in relation to stylistics and poetics]. Kielce: Wydawnictwo Akademii Świętokrzyskiej, pp. 135–151. [In Polish].

Lambrou, M., Durant, A., 2014. Media stylistics. In: P. Stockwell, S. Whiteley, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 503–519.

Macagno, F., Walton, D. T., 2014. Emotive Language in Argumentation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Maingueneau, D., 2017. The heterogeneity of discourse: expanding the field of discourse analysis. Palgrave Communications, 3, pp. 1–8. https://doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2017.58.

Miall, D. S., 2014. Emotions, feelings and stylistics. In: P. Stockwell, S. Whiteley, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Stylistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 424–438.

Miller, C., 1984. Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70 (2), pp. 151–167. https://doi.org/10.1080/00335638409383686.

O’Regan, T., Walmsley-Evans, H., 2015. Towards a history of Australian film criticism. Screening the Past, 39, <online> Available at: <http://www.screeningthepast.com/issue-39-first-release/towards-a-history-of-australian-film-criticism/> [Accessed 8 November 2021].

Onursal, A. İ., 2006. Critique de film comme genre de discours [Film review as a discours genre] Dilbilim, 15, pp. 263–273. Available at: <https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/pub/iudilbilim/issue/1084/12269> [Accessed 12 November 2021]. [In French].

Perelman, Ch., Olbrechts-Tyteca, L., 1971. The New Rhetoric. A Treatise on Argumentation. Translated by J. Wilkinson, P. Weaver. Notre Dame, Ind, USA: University of Notre Dame Press.

Plantin, Ch., 2011. Les bonnes raisons des émotions. Principes et méthode pour l’étude du discours émotionné [The reasons of emotions. The rules and the method of research on emotional discourse]. Berne: Peter Lang. [In French].

Powell, J. G. F., 2013. Cicero’s style. In: C. Steel, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Cicero. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 41–72.

Rieffel, R., 2006. L’évolution du positionnement intellectuel de la critique culturelle [The evolution of the intellectual positioning of cultural criticism]. Quaderni, 60, pp. 55–64. https://doi.org/10.3406/quad.2006.2059. [In French].

Silva, F., Leal, A., Purificação, S., Ferreira, I., Oliveira, F., 2018. Crítica cinematográfica: análise linguístico-textual [The film review: a linguistic and textual analysis]. In: J. Veloso, et al., eds. A linguística em diálogo: volume comemorativo dos 40 anos do Centro de Linguística da Universidade do Porto [Linguistics in dialogue: a volume commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Center for Linguistics of the University of Porto]. Porto: Universidade do Porto. Centro de Linguística, pp. 431–458. [In Portuguese].

Taboada, M., 2011. Stages in an online review genre. Text and Talk, 31 (2), pp. 247–269. https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2011.011.

Walton, D. T., 1992. The Place of Emotion in Argument. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Zarefsky, D., 2019. The Practice of Argumentation. Effective Reasoning in Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1 We are using here the Latin rhetorical terminology of genus deliberativum.

2 All translations from French into English are by the author of this paper.