About a week ago I went to the cinema to see the much raved about winner of this year’s Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival – La Vie d’Adele or Blue is the Warmest Colour.
For weeks I’d been hearing, seeing and reading rave reviews of this movie. This movie that is supposedly a “shattering masterpiece” and ” Raw, honest, powerfully acted, and deliciously intense, Blue Is the Warmest Color offers some of modern cinema’s most elegantly composed, emotionally absorbing drama.”
Personally I love cinema and I have a particularly soft spot for French cinema, so I was really excited and looking forward to seeing this movie. I was excited that here we finally had a movie that was going to take lesbian mainstream and was not only been accepted but was being given awards.
Well I went to see it – full of hope. I came out dissatisfied and left with a bitter aftertaste, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. My first reaction standing outside the cinema was “overrated”. It took me a few days to realise why exactly I felt uneasy about it. I think I know why.
I actually needed to watch Francois Ozon’s latest masterpiece ‘Jeune & Jolie’ to realise.
The main thing that went wrong with “La Vie d’Adele” is Abdellatif Kechiche.
This man took what could have genuinely been beautiful and actually worthy of a Palme D’Or and the stunning work of two excellent actresses and created a mushy pile of bullshit that Steven Spielberg then deemed worthy of an award. Why does the movie need to have an ending that is so extremely different from the book that it is based on? Did Kechiche think the audience was not ready for anything else but his shit ending? Did he think his rewritten rubbish was more acceptable?
As the director of the movie, he took the touching and beautiful story by Julie Maroh and completely twisted it around to become a visual display of two young womens’ sexuality purely intended to please, entertain, comfort and reassure a heterosexual male audience.
A potentially beautiful story that could have helped the lesbian community was re-written, produced, directed and essentially destroyed by Abdellatif Kechiche.
While every other review raves about the explicit sex scenes I think they are a ruse, a distraction, a visual ploy to make the viewer and the general audience think that by watching this “shocking” and “eye opening” movie they are being open-minded and accepting when in reality they are only being spoon-fed a middle-aged heterosexual man’s self-indulgent point of view on young lesbians.
Adele is the beautiful, fragile and feminine main character for all male viewers to fall in love with. A young girl who is lost and helpless, who needs guidance, who needs to be protected (really by a strong man if you’re asking Kechiche but he decides to indulge us for a little bit). She is led astray by Emma – this unattractive, manly self-centered dyke who is only interested in herself and her own career as an artist (personally I love her). Adele plays the perfect housewife and caters the perfect party to celebrate Emma. But Emma does not appreciate her, is ungrateful and selfish. Adele feels inadequate. So what else is poor Adele to do? She drifts into the arms of a male colleague because she is so lonely (this loneliness can only be fixed by a man obviously) and hurt by Emma. Emma find out, gets angry and throws blubbering and weak little Adele out (how awful when she has nowhere else to go!). Poor vulnerable Adele can’t seem to get over her love and we get some more dragged out pain and sadness shot in nice visuals – because obviously that is what happens when you allow yourself to be led astray down the path of lesbian evil. Then let’s end the movie with fragile Adele feeling uncomfortable and left out and leaving the gallery of the now-very-successful-but-still-selfish-Emma to walk away down an empty street – but let’s bring back the guy she met at the party who now fancies her and suggestively runs out of the gallery looking for her. Probably to save her by injecting his man self into her life and curing her of her lesbian ways and giving her the opportunity to do and be what really makes her (and obviously all women) happy – to be a primary school teacher, married to a man, cooking him dinners – because what else could any woman possibly want from life?
Why did the colleague she cheats with when she is lonely need to be a man? Why does this guy at the gallery – this failed actor who now works in real estate – make a return at all? Why does the movie have to end with the suggestion of a heterosexual ending? Am I reading too much into it that this heterosexual-saving-suggested-at-the-end comes from a Francophone man of North African descent much like Kechiche himself – is that taking it another step too far or am I onto some sort of heroic self-projection here? Is Kechiche going to save and cure the world of evil and bad lesbianism?
I genuinely believe that the general public’s perception of lesbians is even less accepting and more negative than that of gay men, where gay men have had some wonderfully charismatic and flamboyant representatives who are much loved by the public to help make them “more mainstream” and “acceptable” – thinking along the lines of Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Stephen Fry to Ricky Martin and most recently Tom Daley. Gay men are successful, accepted and much-loved across the public arenas of music, cinema, sport and television. Famously gay women are far fewer and seem to have it much harder – Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia DeRossi, Cynthia Nixon are a few that proudly and bravely wave the flag for lesbianism but I can’t shake the feeling that the general public needs to work on itself much much more to accept lesbian women and to let them be lesbian without feeling any sort of underlying shitty assumption like “but it is unnatural, all women want to be mothers, it’s just a phase” or “she just never met the right man”.
With this being the current social backdrop for the movie in 2013 – this movie does much more harm than good and should have never won any award. Yes, the acting is superb, the cinematography is pretty alright, the original story was beautiful and touching – but do we want to encourage people like Kechiche to continue this kind of sub-conscious spreading of narrow-minded prejudices? Do we want to award them for that?
And for all of those banging on about the sex scenes – graphic, explicit, long sexual scenes that have been shot way too close up really do not offend or bother me in the slightest. Anyone my age and of the internet generation who claims to have never seen anything like this before is clearly lying. Having thoroughly enjoyed all six seasons of the “L Word” I’m also pretty sure there is no amount of lesbian sex scenes that could possibly bother me. I personally found the close up shots of the spaghetti chewing the most disturbing visuals in the movie.