When I saw that Blue Is The Warmest Color won the Palme D’or at the Festival de Cannes in 2013, I went out of my way to see it. I was hopeful, since it had won this prestigious award and was being raved about by the LGBTQ community, that this film would blow me away. I was hugely disappointed, and very, very bored.
BITWC is a coming of age tale that follows Adèle’s (Adèle Exarchopoulos) journey of self-discovery and exploration of her own sexuality. A chance encounter with Emma (Léa Seydoux), the girl that we must assume to be cool, unique, and free-spirited because she has blue hair, leads to what is supposed to be an intense and life changing relationship. You would think that one could produce quite an interesting and thoughtful film off the back of that plot summary but apparently, given a span of 3 hours to do so, Abdellatif Kechiche couldn’t quite muster it.
Emma: I have blue hair and therefore am an intellectual. I serve to make you feel inferior about your lowly pre-school teaching job.*
Why this film was worshipped by the LGBTQ community I do not know, if anything I feel they should be insulted. BITWC fails at every opportunity it is given to make a statement on the struggles that the LGBTQ community faces and it also does a huge disservice to lesbian women in its stereotypical portrayals. There are certain elements which Kerchiche could have developed further which would have had a significant impact on the quality of the film. Adèle’s confusion and difficulty in accepting her sexuality could have been explored further. The bullying from classmates about her sexuality could have been explored further. Sadly, these parts were a small blip of interest on what ended up being a dull drawn out disaster of a film.
We have the character Emma, who cheats on her current partner to be with Adèle, who then banishes Adèle from her life for cheating on her. Who then cheats again on her next partner with Adèle. Emma is a disgusting hypocrite. Then we have Adèle who is a snotty, crying, mopey, mouth-breathing mess. I had such a tough time immersing myself because I just want to tell her to shut her gob. I literally couldn’t give a shit about any of the characters in this film. (P.S. If they ever decide to make an American version of this, they should cast Kristen Stewart as Adèle, perfect casting if I do say so myself).
Kerchiche perpetrates stereotypes of gay women in this film. When Adèle becomes jealous of Emma’s overly intimate exchanges with Lise (Mona Walravens) and Emma becomes cold and rejecting toward Adèle, instead of actually talking to each other, Adèle immediately turns to men for sexual gratification. All this does is reaffirm people’s beliefs that when a lesbian woman is hurt by another woman, they will always “go back to” men. I don’t think I need to state how absurd this is.
Adèle: It’s completely appropriate for me to finger bang you in a café.*
We then must deal with scene after scene of Adèle moping around her classroom, looking very miserable about a job she apparently loves, intermingled with more snotty crying. Instead of delving into the self-destructive behaviours of someone with a broken heart, or the difficult conversations she may have to face with her conservative parents, we have a character that gets on with her life as normal and cries at almost any opportunity. Whilst I am not stating that this does not happen, it makes for a fucking boring watch.
BITWC is objectifying and voyeuristic and when you are aware of how much Adèle and Léa hated filming it, it makes it even more difficult to stomach. The lengthy sex scenes, which I imagine were highly anticipated, turned out to be a very uncomfortable watch. These scenes were far from sensual and looked unrealistic, forced and aggressive. If anything, the love-making scenes felt void of love. If you are not just a straight male looking for some wank bank material and were hoping for a more realistic intimacy, I would recommend watching Gia (1998).
In interviews Adèle and Léa spoke of how they were dropped in the deep end after only two days of filming in which they had to shoot these long and exploitative scenes. Kerchiche would obsessively force them to re-shoot scenes for the inanest reasons, the main sex scene took an inordinate ten days to film, which leaves one wondering if it was purely for Kerchiche’s sick gratification.
You may feel that I have been harsh about BITWC, maybe you loved it. If so I would ask you to watch it again and re-evaluate your opinion, if you still love it, I am always interested in hearing an opposing opinion. I disliked it the first time watching it and after re-watching it specifically for this blog piece I dislike it even more. There is one thing I can congratulate Kerchiche on though and that is how he somehow managed to create a film that is simultaneously infantile and pretentious, I wasn’t sure that was possible. I did intend to write an article that was at least 1000 words long but much like how Kerchiche could not muster up a good plot with 3 hours to do so, I cannot muster up the energy to write about it.
*None of these quotes exist in the film.