Blue is the Warmest Color – A Film about Love not Lesbians

Laura Kay

Blue is the Warmest Color has been one of the most talked about films of this year. Refreshingly, this is not simply because its two lead characters are both women who fall in love with each other. Instead, the controversy has surrounded the fact that the prestigious Palme D’or at Cannes Film Festival was awarded not only to director Abdellatif Kechiche, but to the two leading actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux; an unprecedented move, making them two of only three women ever to win the prize.

Interviews with Seydoux and Exarchopoulos have also revealed a strained working relationship between the women and Kechiche, who despite being described generously as a ‘tortured genius’ was known to regularly do over 200 takes of the same shot, and make them work gruelling, indefinite hours. In fact Seydoux has even gone as far to describe the experience of filming with him as ‘horrible’ although, now with the knowledge of the film’s considerable success, definitely worth it.

Another aspect of this film which has been highly controversial and so cannot go unmentioned is the extremely long sex scene, which runs for approximately seven minutes. Once again it is not the fact that it’s two women which has been under scrutiny but rather that the scene is graphic and seemingly uncensored. In fact, it is so realistic that it has been suggested that the scenes were real, which has been strongly denied by everyone involved. That this scene has been at the forefront of discussion about this film is – in my mind at least – a bit of a shame, because other than highlighting the passionate nature of their relationship, there isn’t actually a great deal to say.

With all this in mind, I thought there was no way I’d be able to watch this film objectively, without all my preconceived ideas taking over. Thankfully this couldn’t have been further from the case and as soon as the film started I was immediately swept away by this beautifully shot story of love, loss and obsession. Kechiche’s up-close shots of Adele immediately make us feel closer to her and almost a part of her experience. Close-ups of her eating especially, even moreso than the elaborate sex scenes, are hugely effective in presenting her as visceral and real.

The chemistry between Adele and Emma is electric and when they’re apart the loss feels palpable and real. The ambiguous ending is not as frustrating as most ambiguous endings tend to be, and is instead truly open to interpretation. For example, because I am a hopeless romantic, I completely believe that the ending indicated that they would live happily ever after. This film does not prescribe or dictate: it simply presents a portrait of a relationship, stripped bare and broken down. It is very beautiful, very sad and very rare.

What I love about Blue is the Warmest Color is not just that it’s a brilliant film about being gay, celebrated in the gay community and by awards handed out specifically in this area, but that it’s a brilliant film about being in love, celebrated by a much wider audience and by prestigious awards and that it just happens that the two leads are women. This is a film with lesbians in, not a ‘lesbian film’, and that distinction is hugely important.

About Laura Kay

I am an American History graduate who spent most of my time writing about pop culture and lesbians. I now make coffee and bake cakes for a living so that I can carry on writing about these things on the internet. I am a serial intern.

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