The art cinema motivates its narrative by two principles: realism and authorial expressivity." Art films deviate from the mainstream, "classical" norms of filmmaking in that they typically deal with more episodic narrative structures with a "...loosening of the chain of cause and effect. Art films often deal with an inner drama that takes place in a character's psyche, such as psychological issues dealing with individual identity, transgressive sexual or social issues, moral dilemmas, or personal crises.
Mainstream films also deal with moral dilemmas or identity crises, but these issues are usually resolved by the end of the film. In art films, the dilemmas are probed and investigated in a pensive fashion, but usually without a clear resolution at the end of the film. In some art films, the director uses a depiction of absurd or seemingly meaningless actions to express a philosophical viewpoint such as existentialism.

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