Blue is the warmest color
Blue is the Warmest Colour has been making headlines since it received the Palme d’Or award for the wrong reasons.
The film is mainly the study and prescription of the character and emotional world of Adele.
The fact that it also deals with a same sex relationship and includes explicit lesbian sex is a secondary aspect of the film. Instead everyone focuses on this later part and criticizes the film for its exaggerated and rather unrealistic lesbian sex scenes.
First a word on the lesbian sex and other stereotypes.
Yes, the sex seems sometimes unrealistic and exaggerated...scissoring doesn't work for everyone and, not all lesbians have an obsession with asses.
Also, yes, there were some lesbian stereotypes which are rather ridiculous. Lesbian bars are not full of desperate drunk older women trying to flirt with every new girl walking in the bar.
Also, we have no idea what Adele’s parents took the whole thing. They disappear from the film after they first meet Emma and we they have no idea of the relationship. Have they found out later? Their daughter ends up living with this woman.
Do they know? Do they approve? Families can make same sex relationships unbearably difficult...However, despite these criticisms from a lesbian perspective, I was surprised to watch the lesbian community react negatively to this film.
Any film, any effort, to mainstream lesbianism should be welcomed and treasured. This film has probably done more to bring awareness and a sense of normality to lesbianism than any other work of art/activity/statement.
So, what is the film about?
It is a character study of a high school student called Adele and is spread over several years. And the film deals with relationships, with break ups, with families, with choices on careers, with the pretentiousness of the art world.
The film starts well before Adele meets Emma. It is about Adele finding her sexuality, lying to her classmates about her sexual preferences, her relationship with her parents. And her life is in general normal. She is a normal teenager, doing ok at school, dressing normally, her relationship with her parents is normal. There is nothing extraordinary about her. She laughs and she cries and she is full of emotions that are not exaggerated but rather “swallowed’. We get close ups of Emma sleeping, crying, snot coming down her nose, mascara all over her face. The whole film is filmed in close ups. Intense close ups. And she cries quietly in her bedroom. So that her parents don’t hear her. Just like every other teenager.
Adele then meets Emma and their love affair starts. The sex scenes are very explicit but somehow not sexy. The sex is (despite being unrealistic) passionate, but I did not find it pornographic. I found it desperate, painful in a way.
Emma is more experienced and more cynical. But for Adele, Emma is her first real lover. Previous sex had been unsatisfying. Adele is starving for Emma’s kisses, her body…the look of desire in her eyes, in her mouth… and she is clinging from her.
A very obviously unequal relationship. While Emma likes and wants Adele, the relationship is much more normal for her. While for Adele, it is much more important. Adele is pure and shy and she would only envisage doing the things she is doing with Emma. She finds it difficult to ‘attach’ to any other she says. While for Emma, this is sex. Good, passionate sex. But still sex. She would do the same things to someone else.
And after all this sex, Adele gets up in the mornings and goes and teaches at a pre-school. The contrast created with the interchanging scenes creates a momentary shock, before you realize that this is life and this is what happens every day, everywhere.
But then routine kicks in. Every day life and its problems. They start becoming annoyed with things on one another that they used to like or at least just accept. Satisfaction is sought elsewhere.
Emma, the ‘artist’, ‘true to life’ and ‘uncompromising’ starts disliking Adele’s ‘lack of ambition to do real things’. She cannot understand that in fact this is what Adele wants to do. She wants to teach kids. She is not just doing it to make a living but she actually finds satisfaction in it. But Emma, the ‘artist’ cannot understand that satisfaction can be found in things other than art. And this drifts them apart. Emma starts flirting with another woman who is more arty, while Adele becomes quietly disillusioned with Emma’s friends, their pretentiousness. She looks subtly shocked when a male friend of Emma’s is describing the male and the female orgasm as if a man can ever have an idea what a female orgasm is like and vise versa.
After their break up, Adele is unable to recover, while Emma moves on. Adele is broken. She goes through her daily tasks and longs for the moment when her working day is finished so that she can be alone and cry. She cries quietly. She feels responsible for the break up. While deep down she knows that it was not the cheating that caused the separation, the thought that Emma just fell out of love with her is just too painful for her to deal with. So she lies to herself while knowing that she is lying to herself. And the pain is unbearable. She also feels somehow rejected by Emma for her career choices. The art world, the ‘artists’, with a sense of superiority that is so illogical that it just becomes difficult to find arguments to challenge it. But again, she knows, she just knows that she is more honest to herself and her needs in working with kids, in comparison with the various ‘artists’ doing ‘real things’. This is what she wants. And she feels so safe in her choice that she doesn’t let Emma’s or other ‘artists’ comments make her change.
While Adele is unable to recover from the break up, suffering from the heartbreak, unable to connect to anyone else, Emma is making changes. She now has a family, a wife and a child. She has compromised her art. She would never ‘do colours’ she said. ‘Just because something is fashionable it does not mean you have to do it’. She would not ‘compromise’ her artistic expression. However, in her exhibition, all paintings are covered in colour apart from the first ones, the ones of Adele.
The film ends with the title, which in French is ‘La Vie d’Adele, Chapitre 1 & 2’. And this is not meant to say that there will be a sequel. Just that these were the first 2 chapters in Adele’s life. And hopefully, in the following chapters, her pain will ease; she will fall in love again and be happy.
The film is really good. The visuals, with the close-ups were incredibly intense. And the acting was fantastic. Adele especially. Not for one moment is she not 100% believable. She acted all the different emotions perfectly. Without exaggeration. And her life was completely normal.Nothing extraordinary was going on. And this is why the fact that Adele was involved in a lesbian relationship was so incredibly powerful.
Lesbians are normal, they lead normal lives, they have jobs, parents, good and bad moments. And lesbians of course also fall in love and have sex, just like any other person in the world.
This was the life of Adele and I for one believed it.