Ambitious indie art or high class pornography for elitists?
Art peppered with graphic sex scenes or lesbian pornography given artistic credibility through pretentious dialogue?Blue is the Warmest Colour has won numerous awards – not least being resoundingly celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival – but it went ignored by the Oscars, and largely failed to capture the hearts and minds of either audiences or critics in North America. It has also been rather surprisingly criticised by the LGBT community, who also failed to find a connection with the film, citing the heterosexual view of homosexuals as being impossible to ignore.There’s merit to all of the arguments, both for and against the feature. Certainly it boasts a startling realism in terms of coming-of-age drama – you follow two young women who are drawn to one another, and who embark upon a very authentic relationship of highs and lows, driven by sex and love, and marred by judgment, fluctuating feelings and the inevitable changes that come with the unstoppable passage of time.
Impressive portraits of social classes and acceptability pepper the film, leaving it easy to relate to.
Yet the seemingly interminable musings on existentialism and philosophy will turn many away, catering for the dedicated indie crew in spades, but also playing into the stereotypical pretentiousness tickbox that might have been an honest depiction of immature student interaction, but feels untempered and unrefined as the characters pass through the years into adulthood.
Far more powerful is the relationship core itself, which, unfettered, would have sustained its own – considerably shorter – piece. The two lead performances are generally excellent, and oftentimes palpably real, particularly in that you seldom feel complete sympathy for one or the other character; and yet you can frequently relate to what they are going through.
The sex scenes, however, both cement the union, and threaten to derail it; capturing intimacy is an art, but the director’s prolonged, exhaustive depiction of possibly the most explicit lesbian sex scenes ever to feature in a non-adult release, is a risky and perhaps excessive choice – sure the publicity will draw in a wider audience than ‘a film about two lesbian girls’ would normally garner, but it also somewhat distracts – and detracts – away from the more interesting relationship narrative beneath.
Would this film have received such acclaim had it been about two male - or even heterosexual - lovers?
Still, despite the criticisms rightly and wrongly levelled at the film – and the director, whose own cast and crew spoke out against his mistreatment of them – there is certainly something here of both beauty and majesty; of artistic worth but, beneath it, of something which purely captures the heart and soul of changing feelings, maturing, loving and stopping loving. That’s a rare thing, and, even if it is not quite the resoundingly perfect masterpiece that everybody appears to be raving about, it still has a unique presence and potency which makes it remarkable, memorable and definitely worthy your time. Recommended.
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