Blue is the Warmest Colour - Lilith Likes to Watch

Title: Blue is the Warmest Colour
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Synopsis: Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself. - Via
Lilith's Notes: Finally touching this notorious film.

"I have infinite tenderness for you."

This movie has been on my to be watched list for actual years. The time had come for me to finally sit down and experience le art.

Blue is the Warmest Colour is the story of a fraught romance between an unhappy underage girl and a lesbian slacker. Adele (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a fifteen year old student who feels her young life is unfulfilled. She patches over the emptiness through food, sleep and gossiping with friends. After being pressured by her friends to go on a date with Thomas (played by Jérémie Laheurte), a guy with whom she has nothing in common, she is mocked for being a slut even though she and Thomas didn't do anything sexy. Girls are just mean.

Adele does end up fucking Thomas but finds it to be unsatisfying. She goes with friends to a gay bar, then ditches them, only to end up at a lesbian bar where she meets an enigmatic blue-haired lesbian named Emma (played Lea Seydoux). Together, Adele and Emma begin a whirlwind romance that spans years and inevitably ends in heartbreak.

This film is somewhat infamous. It carved a reputation for itself as being less artistic and more exploitative. Almost immediately after the lauded film's release, the actors portraying Adele and Emma came forth and told the press how they felt the intimate scenes were exploitative and they had been used. The director shot back, and a war of words that spanned months spilled all over the movie.

And so now, ten years later, it feels downright bad to enjoy the skin scenes in this film. There had been countless thinkpieces about the sex scenes, ranging from "No true lesbian fucks in such a ridiculous way" to "for me, scissoring is a Tuesday night staple". It evoked memories of some of the backlash I recall being levied at the sex scenes between Kate Winslet and Saorise Ronin in the film Ammonite.

Because I know myself and I like what I like, I enjoyed the sex scenes. But I also already knew about the controversy, so I was left feeling the same way I feel about the Radly Metzger/Constance Money debacle. I liked the product, but there were allegations of exploitation and cruelty driving this art.

Was it worth it?

In the case of Blue is the Warmest Colour, I'm going to have to say no.

The movie is swamped with overly-lengthy scenes filmed by a ridiculously self-indulgent director who thinks he is creating a moody atmosphere. Adele is sleepwalking through her young life until an edgy lesbian arteest cradle-robs her into an existance of cosmopolitan domesticity.

While the narrative does set up that Adele and Emma have things in common, not enough is done to make Emma enigmatic, seductive or even likable. Her entire personality is made up of her hair and her middling art.

Emma is a manipulative, jealous and petty individual who I never felt a shred of sympathy for or interest in. The character bordered on the predatory gay trope and it made this supposed love story very uncomfortable.

There is one scene that is worth noting: an explosive argument between the lovers where Emma accuses Adele of cheating with a man. It's well acted and perfectly paced and shot. I, however, think that I missed something in translation. It felt to me like Adele just admitted to cheating because Emma was forcing her to say it, when all they did was kiss. But Adele says they fucked a few times. We never see it. Why do we have to see four scenes of Emma canoodling with her friend, or a painfully long scene where a guy mansplains art or culture or whatever but not something as important as Adele cheating?

It's so frustrating.

This movie feels like something that would have been at home on Showcase or HBO in the 90s and that makes it seem incredibly dated, especially for 2013. It's rife with the harmful stereotypes that filled sapphic romance films of yore that were being stridently rejected by the masses in the 2010s.

I want to say Blue is the Warmest Colour walked so films like Benedetta, Below Her Mouth or the beloved Portrait of a Lady on Fire could run, but in reality, Warmest looked over its shoulder at Lost and Delirious and High Art, and said, "Hey, see that? Let's do that."

Best Moment: Food as an aphrodisiac. Adele's craving for something more is on constant display through the use of food and meals.

Worst Moment: The pacing is God awful. Why the fuck is this movie three hours long?


Until next time, my voracious voyeurs. I’m Lilith, and I’m always watching.

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