Awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Blue is the Warmest Colour has received some glowing reviews, but has not escaped it’s critics.
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Colour is based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel. I am always slightly apprehensive when films, which intend to offer realistic portrayals of lesbian couples, are directed by straight men; no I am not about to start a man hating campaign, but I will explain why later.
The French romantic-drama follows the relationship between two women, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, and explores the evolution of women’s sexuality and the modern day relationship.
The three hour long film is packed full of raw emotion and passion, and both Exarchopoulos and Seydoux’s powerful performances keep you transfixed for it’s entire duration.
Blue is the Warmest Colour was largely unscripted, and Exarchopoulos recounts reading the script only once, before being told to ‘throw it away.’ The established French director, Kechiche, wanted the performances to feel real and in the moment, and wanted the script to exist as a mere guide.
Although the acting within the film is exceptional, it has been somewhat overshadowed by certain scenes within the film, mainly it’s love scenes, which have gained a considerable amount of media attention.
For example, an innocent Google search of the film usually results in the prediction that you are seeking ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour 15 minute love scene’, or ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour lesbian scene.’
This brings me nicely onto my straight-male-directing-lesbian-film pessimism, as it feels as though the film is aimed towards other straight men; there always seems to be a great deal of focus placed on the more passionate scenes, and the films also usually contain themes of bisexuality and promiscuity (SPOILER ALERT: Exarchopoulos’ character, whom is also named Adèle, cheats on her long-term girlfriend, Emma, with a man).
One scene in particular, of which relevance I questioned, was a surprise passionate romp between Adèle and Emma in a restaurant. Although, on reflection, I supposed it might be an attempt to illustrate the complexities of separation and break-ups, I questioned how many couples can actually say they practically had sex with their ex in a public place… at least sober!
Maybe it’s a French thing, but it just seemed grossly exaggerated for the benefit of it’s male audience.
This implicitly reminds me of Shakira and Rihanna’s new music video for Can’t Remember to Forget you, directed by Joseph Kahn, which also contained strong lesbian undertones, despite the song being about trying to get over an ex-boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, they make a beautiful couple – I just don’t get it.
I recognise the ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ of the situation, as, had Kechiche not included sex scenes, he would have most definitely been criticised, perhaps because it might signify that homosexuality is indecent or shameful in some respects. However, I do question the motives behind the lengthy and explicit love scenes, and the tired expression of ‘sex sells’ comes to mind.