Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Blue is the Warmest Color"

My partner and I took the opportunity to watch Blue is the Warmest Color recently.

People seem to have lots of thoughts and feelings about this movie which, if you haven't heard, seems to be particularly notable for its long and graphic sex scenes between its two main female characters.  That's really all I knew about the movie before watching it, as I didn't read actual reviews of it beforehand so as to not taint, prejudice, or color my view of the movie before seeing it.

Of course, when I got home, I immediately got on Internet and scoured the blogs and media for reviews.

My short synopsis of the movie is that it follows several years in the life of a young woman, Adele, from her last year(s?) of high school until about her mid-20s? I'm not really sure, actually, on that time frame both because the passage of time in the movie is subtle and I think schooling maybe works differently in France?  One day Adele is in high school and has a blue-haired girlfriend but then gradually she is a teacher and has the same girlfriend, who now has blondish-brown hair and who (*spoiler alert*) just isn't that into Adele anymore.

I'm sure there's supposed to be a tie-in with the hair color and the English-version title of the movie, but Fannie's Room is not the blog to read for that sort of deep metaphorical analysis, I guess.

Anyway, to continue my "short" synopsis, Adele basically really seems to likes spaghetti, which we learn through several up-close clips of her slurping it down and getting a really messy face from it, and this hunger seems to be related to her hunger for sex.  Hence, I suppose, what has necessitated the graphic sex scenes?

Now, I'll just cut to the chase here. I don't mind sex scenes, particularly those involving women. And, prior to reading any reviews or backstory about this movie, I did appreciate the sex scenes for maybe the first 30 seconds or so.  But then, I quickly found them absurd.  (I say "them" because I'm remembering two sex scenes, but it might have just been one long one? Wev). If you've seen the movie, you might understand this confusion better.  Basically, I walked away thinking that the scene(s?) consist of a lot of moaning, a lot of position changing, and a lot of impressive acrobatics and reaching.

And, they were long.

7 minutes of straight-up sexual moaning is awkward in a movie, especially in a theater of what seemed to be mostly heterosexual couples.  I started turning my head sideways, like, "Wut? Really?"  I had the urge to stand up and announce to the theater, "Can I just clarify that not all lesbian sex is like this?"  As the scene continued on and on and on, it seemed like it was maybe trying to be a voyeuristic "Joy of Lesbian Sex" manual showcasing all of the positions available for two women, to an audience that Really Wants To Know What Women Do In Bed Together. That notion, to me, far eclipsed any other message the male producer of the movie was trying to make with these scenes.

And on the point of the male producer, Michelle Juergen has critiqued the "very distinct male gaze" behind the camera, while referencing how the two actors expressed feeling exploited by the producer.  Which yes, totally problematic. So, my main point is somewhat related - namely, that I'm struck by the critical accolades this movie has received and the implication that it has been a man that has practically invented the portrayal of lesbian sex and love in the movies.

Because, um, no.

Other than that, the story itself is sweet. Adele, in my opinion, is a likeable, flawed character muddling through life learning hard lessons and finding out who she is. At the same time, though, the love and coming-out story is nothing that about a gazillion lesbian and women producers haven't already told and that I haven't already seen before since I have watched every lesbian movie ever made no matter how bad or good, so.

My final note is kind of meta and has two parts. First, this video of lesbians reacting to Blue is pretty funny:

Secondly, I'm not even going to go down the path, myself, of saying "lesbians don't actually do that!" as some folks have.  How would I even know what all other people do in bed? That's certainly not in the Homosexualist Agenda newsletters I get.

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