Being proud advocates of LGBT culture (we have spent a lot of time in Berghain…) we were really excited when news began to trickle forth from the Cannes film festival 2013 – of the Palme d’Or winner ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’.
Based on a French graphic novel and garnering much critical acclaim all the way back in May – it has taken an age for it to hit our screens. But it is hard to avoid the vivid imagery scattered all over the underground stations in London.
The film is very visceral – real and intense in its portrayal of the ups and downs of modern day lesbianism. The acting by Adèle Exarchopoulos, ranging from a 15 year old discovering that her erotic feelings for boys are severly lacking, to a woman torn by her feelings for another female, are heartbreaking in their honesty and vulnerability.
Léa Seydoux, playing the sexually more mature and at-ease Emma, has had a liberal upbringing and is an artist – comfortable in her sexuality. Her flare and bright blue hair awaken feelings in Adèle that both excite her and make her feel welcomed to a life she didn’t realise she had been missing all along.
Yet the path to true romance never runs smoothly. The film raises questions of whether such erotic intensity can ever turn into something with durable longevity?
In the aftermath, what EVERYONE has been talking about (and over-hyping) were the supposed graphic sex scenes between the two women portrayed in the film. Director Abdellatif Kechiche has courted controversy – with critics claiming that the sex is too pornographic and not faithful to true lesbian encounters.
Even the author of the graphic novel has condemned the piece with the statements: “heteronormative [people] laughed because they don’t understand it” and that gay people “found it ridiculous”.
We found it neither of these things.
However, now both actresses have come forth to proclaim that they shall never work with director Kechiche again and have described the experience as “horrible”. There have even been suggestions that prosthetic vaginas were used.
I don’t know if we were the only ones NOT to be utterly shell shocked by such de-Hollywood-ised sex scenes?
But in many ways it was refreshing.
Three hours full of subtitled French cinema flew by.
We were mostly obsessed with the camera’s permanent gaze upon the girls’ mouths – there is definitely a lot suggested by this oral fixation on screen. We see them biting their lips in frustration, licking their lips, pouting, kissing, chewing – in fact Adèle is always seen to be open-mouthed – lips trembling, eating with her mouth full of food. or with a cigarette hanging from between her lips. I think we get what Kechiche is trying to suggest…
However, we found the more heart wrenchingly painful moments were the ones that stuck with us – the homophobic high school mob scenes, the tear-stained cafe encounter,…and the moment the man comes running out of the art gallery after Adèle leaves – where a moment’s hesitation leaves one wondering how many missed opportunities there are in everyone’s life.