Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Talent: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Alma Jodorowsky
Release Date: 22nd November 2013
It was a strange experience, knowing that the outcome of this screening would be the birth of a dozen articles on the aesthetic merits of lesbian sex written by (mostly) old men as, up to this point, the discussion of Blue is the Warmest Colour has largely orbited around its most graphic moments. Yet it was the film’s unusually zealous style that left me confused. Throughout this vast, three-hour study of a young woman’s transition into adulthood, director Abdellatif Kechiche insists on an aesthetic approach that is detailed, probing and voyeuristic. This detail-fetishism is seeing something of a surge in popularity right now, but Kechiche’s method is peculiarly relentless, capturing in untiring detail moments ranging from romantic intimacy to messy eating to lonely mouth-breathing (a lot of this).
It’s this relentlessness that, paradoxically, leaves the film without a creative core. Instead of looking for the small moments that make up our sensory lives, or finding those tiny details we pack away silently in our memories, we’re forced to ponder the consequence of every single molecule of spaghetti that Adele crams into her mouth. For all the searching, I could feel no real insight, no directed revelation, so merciless is the film’s commitment to a lack of filtration.
And despite that zealousness, Kechiche is guilty of a major inconsistency. If the rest of the film is too insistent on intimacy, the sex scenes are hysterically loud, pornographic and lacking in recognisable reality. Not only is the departure in styles jarring, the scenes are so repetitive and so arbitrarily placed that they seem to come right out of the Tommy Wiseau playbook.
I will give Blue this, though: the graphic sex is more bold than lecherous, even if completely incongruous. It’s clear that Kechiche set out to prioritise a bolder kind of filmmaking, it’s just a shame that in three hours he couldn’t settle on one approach over the other.
Words: Michael Healy