The Language of Desire: Blue Is the Warmest Color

Categories: Movies

So here's another male hetero critic chiming in on the greatness of Blue Is the Warmest Color. I will at least keep it brief. This NC-17 coming-of-age drama from France, where it won the top Cannes prize, is based on a graphic novel whose author, Julie Maroh, complained of the film's "so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn." Then stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux gave an interview saying that shooting conditions were horrible and they don't want to work with director Abdellatif Kechiche again. That's unfortunate, because their amazingly rich performances, given with such abandon and yet such exactitude, seem so effortless.

Exarchopoulos plays an awkward teenager who meets an older art student, played by Seydoux, and discovers a devouring passion. Theirs is an urgent and volatile intimacy, the sort that can't sustain itself yet can't help but forever affect the people who share it. So yes, the film contains long explicit sex scenes. Between two women. Whose relationship doesn't exactly work out. Life contains such things as well. What is the right way to make, and to watch, movies about them? There is more to this one than the sex - and, well, yes, there's also more sex, involving men - but it's true that Kechiche's basic framework is a well-established visual language of desire. Bear in mind, though, that he spends most of the film's three-hour duration looking closely not at the women's bodies but at their faces, where all the action really is.

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