, an NC-17-rated graphic novel adaptation from director Abdellatif Kechiche, is drawing criticism from an unlikely source: the film's stars.
The subject of their ire is the elaborate and graphic lesbian sex scene that made the movie a polarizing one at the Cannes Film Festival, where it nevertheless won the prestigious Palme D'Or this year. The pair discussed the director's methods at length in a new interview with The Daily Beast.
"[Kechiche] warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves," said one of the film's stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos. "He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography—more like special sex scenes. He told us he didn’t want to hide the character’s sexuality because it’s an important part of every relationship. So he asked me if I was ready to make it, and I said, 'Yeah, of course!' because I’m young and pretty new to cinema. But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act."
They also noted that they hardly knew each other prior to beginning the sex scene, which was one of the first things they had to film, and that they were largely subject to Kechiche's whims throughout production.
"The thing is, in France, it’s not like in the States. The director has all the power. When you’re an actor on a film in France and you sign the contract, you have to give yourself, and in a way you’re trapped," said Seydoux.
Julie Maroh, whose graphic novel was being adapted, has also previously criticized the sex scenes in the film, saying that the film was shot from a very male point of view.
“It appears to me this was what was missing on the set: lesbians,” Maroh wrote. “I don’t know the sources of information for the director and the actresses (who are all straight, unless proven otherwise) and I was never consulted upstream. Maybe there was someone there to awkwardly imitate the possible positions with their hands, and/or to show them some porn of so-called ‘lesbians’ (unfortunately it’s hardly ever actually for a lesbian audience). Because — except for a few passages — this is all that it brings to my mind: a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn, and me feel very ill at ease. Especially when, in the middle of a movie theater, everyone was giggling. The heteronormative laughed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous. The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing, and found it ridiculous. And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were the potential guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen.”