‘Blue’ examines facets of lesbian sexuality

“Blue is the Warmest Color” honestly depicts love and all its desperations. That said, the film is surrounded by controversy due to an abundance of misrepresented and dramatized lesbian intercourse. The film, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, is a coming-of-age story that explores the complexities of sexuality, romance and life as a young adult. The movie follows Adéle (Adéle Exarchopoulos) who works to discover her own identity as she transitions from high school into adulthood. This movie not only captivates the viewer with an enthralling storyline but also brings attention to issues facing homosexual youths without alienating the rest of its audience who many not identify as being gay.

In the beginning of the movie, Adéle is trying to understand her sexual preferences, but society’s expectations of her to only desire males as well as her some of her friends’ disapproval of homosexuality inhibit her constantly. She is plagued by feelings of abnormality when she fails to be attracted to someone who her friends, whom Adéle calls “the sex police”, deem to be one of the most desirable men at their school. Adéle instead falls for an artsy, blue-haired girl named Emma (Léa Seydoux) who Adéle bumps into in the streets. Her curiousity aroused, Adéle stays on the lookout for Emma and eventually finds her­­— by chance? by fate?— in a local bar. Emma, a woman already confident in her sexuality, helps Adéle discover new facets of her own sexual identity while also gaining indispensable life lessons by being consumed by a passionate love affair. Scenes of sunny afternoons in the park together, talking on the phone for endless amounts of time, drawing each other, and­— gasps— meeting the parents, are scattered throughout the film, documenting the stages of a relationship becoming increasingly serious.

Suddenly “Blue” makes a dramatic leap from a story of an uncertain high school girl to a mature woman, moving in with her girlfriend and navigating adulthood. The viewer gets the sense of many years having passed, when confronted with a domestic scene of Adele cooking spaghetti for a dinner party for Emma and her friends. Though Adele seems to adapt fairly easily to this new lifestyle, we also see the first evidence of possible tensions to come.

Toward the end, these relationship strains culminate when both characters prove unfaithful to each other in one way or another. Adele enters a cyclical downward spiral while Emma’s career flourishes. They reconvene at the end of the movie, interacting with each other cordially, yet clearly their relationship has become one beyond repair.

In this way, “Blue is the Warmest Color” stays relatable to audiences by not attempting to conceal the grittiness and confusion that is found in romance as well as the world in general. I appreciate how the film tries to relate the struggles that homosexual teenagers face concerning romance to its audience. Our society has the unfortunate tendency of labeling movies that focus on homosexual couples as LGBTQ-only, such as the need for Netflix to hide them away under a section titled “Gay & Lesbian”.

However, there has been some controversy surrounding this movie, especially from the LGBTQ community. Many people believe that it doesn’t accurately represent lesbian relationships because the director is a straight male who has been critiqued as trying to cater to a male gaze in his portrayal of lesbian characters. In particular, the heavily discussed seven-minute sex scene between Adéle and Emma is highly unrealistic and idealized in order to increase the movie’s appeal. In fact, both actresses involved spoke out against the director, expressing feelings of being exploited for having to do these lengthy scenes. They also take away from the story as a whole, but aren’t entirely in poor taste; in fact, they are necessary to establish the intimate and passionate relationship that builds between Adéle and Emma. The problem with these scenes arises from how they portray the actress. Rather than showing two women sharing a private and beautiful moment with each other, it seems as if the director intended to put them on display for the audience’s pleasure. Although these portions of the film could’ve been handled in a more artful way, they don’t comprise enough of the movie to detract a significant amount from the storyline.

This is not a typical romance that glosses over the less desirable parts of love, nor is it a drama that focuses on a protagonist who flawlessly tackles the problems at hand. On the contrary, Adéle navigates a slew of uncomfortable situations and new experiences. The viewer is able to feel fulfillment from the story because it is a raw representation of growing up and falling in love; Adéle’s leap from adolescence into the real world doesn’t go smoothly, but it manages to leave the audience feeling satisfied for exactly that reason.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” is able to mesmerize you with a story that builds you up, breaks you down, and leaves you amazed that a three-hour movie doesn’t seem too drawn-out. Although its depiction of homosexuality both sexually and in general leaves something to be desired, it is undoubtedly a masterpiece that deserves to be watched.

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