Arts and Culture

On the Controversy of a Movie

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It is the story of a teen discovering sexuality, regarding norms secondary. It is the story of a young adult, who sleeps with men and women but loves one single person. In my country, this story is called La vie d’Adèle (« The life of Adele »).
If I had known (before I watched it) that it was adapted from a comic titled «Blue is the Warmest Color»; if I had known it was the title of the movie in English, no doubts I’d have better understood why the screen was flooded with blue! Like painted by the woman who has shaken Adele’s life, blue radiates from the flowers of a garden to the doors and shutters of houses around, from the lighting of bars to the walls of class rooms. Blue, just like the woman she loves, takes everything in Adele’s life, colors every detail.
Although the film aesthetics matches the paper version, issue surrounding the content seems far more tricky (not to mention the controversy over shooting conditions). Some have blamed the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, for having followed a «male-gaze» logic designed to attract a male straight audience. The movie is thus said to stigmatize female pleasure and to caricature lesbian sexuality/ies. It may be true though, sex scenes are intense, too long for some, maybe excessive. But has such intensity never been experienced by no one?
So as controversial is the closet issue... Rather, the absence of issue. Detractors of the movie decry Kechiche’s omerta on lesbophobia. Well, it is true. The movie (in its cinema version) hardly shows the harmful struggle following many outings. However, that has nothing to do with a director’s ignorance or disrespect; it rather consists in the movie’s whole genius! To get the message, the audience may simply note references to The Virtuous Orphan, to The Princess de Cleve and to Dangerous Liaisons.  Literary works that challenged moral of their time and are, in some prospects, still ahead of Adele’s.
No, it is not focused on pain suffered from archaic social norms. Yes, it glosses over victimization to concentrate on what makes love universal. So that – regardless of sexual orientation(s) – each finds a bit of herself/himself in the movie. It is all about the sense of passion, love-obsession. It is all about the loss of bearings from a glance, bodies evidenced regardless of experience, wounds from the fall no matter how you’ll land.
To the critics that have seen no analysis on social preconceptions, I’d advise to watch the movie again. What he does not say, Kechiche brilliantly suggests and through her learning path, Adele teaches us.
That modest families do not make shallow kids.
That one may be homophile but still narrow-minded.
That one may be a lesbian but no feminist.
That love is the sole shared certainty.    
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