It was only a few days ago that the film Blue is the Warmest Color became the first graphic novel adaptation ever to win the Palme D'Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The film, based on a similarly-titled graphic novel by Julie Maroh, was the subject of quite a bit of discussion, with pundits suspecting that in order to get a wide distribution, the award-winning film would likely have to alter graphic depictions of lesbian sex. At least one person--Maroh--apparently agrees that the sequences weren't in good taste. She accuses the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, of allowing the movie to descend into "porn." Below, find the text of a statement Maroh made on her website, along with (at right) an image featuring the entire statement. Click on the image to enlarge, obviously.
I consider that Kechiche and I have contradictory aesthetic approaches, perhaps complementary. The fashion in which he chose to shoot these scenes is coherent with the rest of what he his creation. Sure, to me it seems far away from my own method of creation and representation, but it would be very silly of me to reject something on the pretext that's it different from my own vision. That's me as a writer. Now, as a lesbian... It appears to me this was what was missing on the set: lesbians. 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. I totally get Kechiche's will to film pleasure. The way he filmed these scenes is to me directly related to another scene, in which several characters talk about the myth of the feminine orgasm, as...mystic and far superior to the masculine one. But here we go, to sacralize once more womanhood in such ways. I find it dangerous. As a feminist and lesbian spectator, I can not endorse the direction Kechiche took on these matters. But I'm also looking forward to what other women will think about it. This is simply my personal stance.
It'll be a while before we see how others respond to the film; it's not due in theaters until the fall, and that assumes that Kechiche doesn't make any changes before then.