While it is possible, as Vivian Sobchack and others show, to illuminate film through Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, it is more difficult to find within Merleau-Ponty’s work a coherent and systematic reflection on cinema. This absence is seldom interrogated. This article addresses what this absence might reveal by analyzing the reasons why Merleau-Ponty stopped short of an explicit discussion of film. The argument builds on these analyses to show how what Merleau-Ponty found problematic about cinema might turn out to be one of cinema’s most resourceful features. For Merleau-Ponty, cinema is caught between a deadening exactitude and a disappointing partiality. It is because of these two apparently opposing extremes that Merleau-Ponty sidelines cinema. However, the pairing of exactness and partiality provides an interesting moment for reflection. Intuitively the two should not coexist, since they appear mutually exclusive. Yet their coexistence seems to renew rather than foreclose a thinking of film. Guided by these two terms, Jean-Luc Nancy produces his own thought on cinema. To show how film is apt at capturing the essential excess and ambiguity of the world, the article will turn to the Lebanese film Je Veux Voir, which offers a powerful instance of cinema’s simultaneous exactitude and partiality.

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