|Blue Is the Warmest Colour (B+)|
In the months since Abdellatif Kechiche's intimate, epically scaled romantic film won the coveted Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival, it has been steeped in more controversy than any film in recent memory. Though as a personal principle I always refrain from reading reviews of films I have not yet seen, the discussions on twitter and the war of words between the film's director and one of its stars has been inescapable. Having now seen the film and enjoyed it for the most part, I can't help but sympathize with sentiments against Kechiche's approach to portraying the sexual interactions between the film's lesbian couple and worse yet, the female anatomy in general. So, let's get all that bad stuff out of the way first.
Stepping out of the theatre after my screening, I was left with an uneasy feeling that can, if I'm being really kind, be described as needing a shower. It isn't just that Blue's already infamous sex scene runs at least a couple of minutes too long for the liking of anyone who's watching the film as a purely cinematic experience and not a pornographic one. What can at least be argued for that scene - and all preceding and subsequent displays of sexual intercourse - is that they serve a purpose in the narrative. It is beyond the limits of my knowledge, responsibility and ethical behavior as a critic to speculate about whether Mr. Kechiche would paint such a painstakingly graphic portrayal of homosexual intercourse if the partners in question were male, but we could have given him the benefit of doubt if the several instances of casual female objectification didn't pepper the film from start to finish.
One struggles to think of any justification for the generous number of shots we see of Adele asleep on her stomach at night, framed from the bottom of her legs to emphasize her behind. With the exception of one instance - her first kiss with Emma in the park - how can one explain countless extreme close-ups of Adele's lips - again mostly in her sleep - except to wonder if the man behind the camera was just far too happy emphasizing excessively on Adele's body parts. These sexualized framings happen over and over again but the most outrageous example of them is a shot of Adele showering near the end of the film, wherein the camera inexplicably tracks her body from toe to head as she stands in an inconceivably uncomfortable position with open legs and "washes" herself. It's quite disturbing, too, that these exploitative displays of the female form happen far more regularly in the first half of the film, where the emphasis of the narrative is on Adele's naivete and immaturity. It left a bad taste in my mouth.