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BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR "Shhh… Your breath is terrible."

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR "Shhh… Your breath is terrible."

FILE UNDER: The internet is changing things. It's increasingly difficult to separate creators from their work, as we have access to more information than ever about the lives and beliefs of people whose work we consume. Rumors of dickish behaviors spread via social media in a way they never did via gossip magazines, and consumers accustomed to voting with their dollars might be tempted to apply the same logic toward entertainment. (Hate homophobia? Don't see Ender's Game.)

It all begs the question: If you disagree with an artist, should you boycott their work? (Does it matter that if Zelda Fitzgerald had had a Tumblr, we undoubtedly would have thought differently of F. Scott?)

Personally, the notion of living in a world where I only consume art and entertainment created by people with whom I ideologically agree is some Soviet Russia shit. Plenty of people disagree with me; I'm sorry that those people will miss seeing the excellent new French film Blue Is the Warmest Color, which has been plagued by controversy since its release.

Blue is a French film about a lesbian relationship that's directed by a man, Abdellatif Kechiche, and stars two straight women; its lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos claim their working conditions during filming were "horrible," particularly during the film's already-infamous sex scene. At Cannes, the Palme d'Or was given to both the director and the two lead actresses, an acknowledgement of how intense and fully realized the performances are; since then, the two women have publicly stated they will never work with Kechiche again. And then there's the sex: The creator of the graphic novel on which the book was based says the film gets lesbian sex all wrong, and there's already a hilarious reaction video in which lesbians comment on the perceived authenticity of the sex scenes, which feature more scissoring and butt-slapping than one might expect from two young women having their first sexual encounter.

But here's the thing: Blue is an excellent movie. It's three hours long, and it feels half that; it's a fantastically realistic and well-drawn love story between two women that ranks among the best I've ever seen. (Sorry, Better Than Chocolate.) It's about a high schooler, Adèle (Exarchopoulos), who falls for blue-haired college student Emma (Seydoux) the first time she sees her. Adèle is needy and aimless, hungry for sexual attention, and the two enter into a beautifully adolescent relationship, all hungry sexuality and deep, pseudo-intellectual conversations. As the years pass and the women age, beautiful, vague Adèle slowly begins to come into focus, but it's not until she screws things up with Emma that she—and we—understand how much the relationship really means to her.

The movie's sex scenes have gotten a lot of attention for being pornographic, and yes, they are. There's a seven-minute-long sequence of hilariously advanced lesbian sex, jarringly out of step with the tone and aesthetic of the rest of the film, and if you want to talk about the male gaze for a while, this movie will afford you a great opportunity to put that women's studies degree to good use. But the film itself is great, a realistic look at a first relationship that, by its nature, intersects with issues of class, homophobia, and self-definition. The hubbub around Blue shows no sign of diminishing, but the film itself quiets the controversy.

Blue Is the Warmest Color
Rated NC-17 · 175 minutes · 2013
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Producer: Olivier Thery-Lapiney, Laurence Clerc, Abdellatif Kechiche, Vincent Maraval and Brahim Chioua
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Mona Walravens, Jeremie Laheurte, Alma Jodorowski, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée, Fanny Maurin, Benjamin Siksou and Sàndor Funtek

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