The other day, I posted a video entitled “Lesbians React to Sex Scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color.” One of the lesbians, Heather, seemed particularly witty and entertaining, and I suspected she might have even more insight than the handful of soundbites a six-minute video would allow. So I publicly offered to publish more. Heather Dockray identified herself and took me up on it, and it turns out my suspicion was correct. Now I’m proud to share her full review of Blue of the Warmest Color, now available in theaters and OnDemand. -Vince
Hottest Lesbian Movie of the Year Unfortunately Mostly About Feelings
Since its showing at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, most of the talk surrounding Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue is the Warmest Color” has focused on the world-renowned director’s world-renowned butt fetish. While the film does feature some well-crafted badonkadonks, it mostly chronicles a relationship between two young women, the stunning Adele (Adele Exarchopoulous – pictured, left) and the would-be-stunning-were-she-not-wearing-a-lesbian-denim-vest Emma (Lea Seydoux – pictured, right). Clocking in at almost three hours, the film, like many lesbian relationships, goes on for too long and contains barely enough sex to make it worthwhile. But the feelings Kechiche inspires are big and real, the acting meaningful and powerful, and the ass . . . still pretty okay.
“Blue” is set in the northern French industrial city of Lille, where Adele is a listless and an oddly-meat-obsessed high-school student. Although she inspires to be a teacher and loves to read long novels – two hallmark symptoms of homosexuality – Adele is unaware of her situation. She dates an older male classmate and later dumps him when she realizes the best part of their relationship was the time they ate meat together. Unsure of what this means (Gay! Gay! Gay!), Adele goes out with her best friend to cruise Lille’s gay nightlife. There, she meets Emma, a blue-haired lesbian she had noticed before in the town plaza, now looking hot and confident and very much like a sexual predator.
This is where the film’s verisimilitude to gay life begins to crumble. When Adele first goes into the gay bar, there are at least seven attractive couples making out to some reasonably sexy music. Anyone who’s ever been to a lesbian bar knows there’s at max two people grinding to Kelly Clarkson, and they look like cyborgs. Kechiche has been criticized for not having any lesbians on set, and the absence does show. The sex scenes feature the magical art of scissoring, and the two make it on the second date but don’t U-haul it until a year in. Lunacy.
Still, what the film lacks in specificity it makes up for in feelings. At one point, Adele is attacked for being gay by one of her best friends, who accuses her of wanting to “eat her pussy” while they were platonically “lying naked in bed next to each other.” Friends, only in France do high-school friends lay naked and smoking side-by-side in bed (where was my one-way ticket to Paris when I needed it? Everyone I knew in the States was clothed and doing a-capella). But for the gay folks in the audience, Adele’s coming-out can feel brutally real: the accusations by straight friends that she’s automatically attracted to them, even though she – and no other self-respecting gay person – would ever bone anyone with a half-ponytail. It’s full of pain and hard to watch, although Adele looks really sexy when she goes to smack her friend Olivia-Benson-style.
There are so many other powerful moments that resonate. Anyone who’s ever experienced love or at least watched “Sleepless in Seattle” knows the feeling on Adele’s face when she goes to kiss Emma for the first time. They’re going to fall in love, you think, followed by, I wonder when they’re going to destroy each other. Anyone who’s ever had to come out knows what it’s like when Adele lies to her parents about her romance with Emma. Just be honest with them, you think, followed by, nah, you probably shouldn’t, your parents are pretty scary. And nobody who’s ever had sex thinks meat sauce is a turn-on, but that’s another story entirely.
Recently, a few of my gay friends and I were featured in a short film made in response to the sex scenes in “Blue.” Of the hundreds of comments posted underneath our YouTube clip, only five percent were about the actual content of the film – the rest were about how we looked like “gross dudes” and “perverted deviants.” Although the majority of these writers had avatars that looked like Insane Clown Posse rejects, and although the majority of their writing appears to have peaked at first-grade summer-school literacy-camp, it still stung. So to my dearly beloved ass-fetishist Abdellatif Kechiche: thanks for putting a real-enough lesbian love story out there, scissoring, tears, bolognaise, and all.
Heather Dockray is a comedian and storyteller living in Brooklyn, NY. She was recently featured in Yeni Sleidi’s “Lesbians React to Sex Scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color.” You can see more of Heather’s work at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyv2ZgX35Ws and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you aren’t from Moveon.org. Thanks to Vince Mancini for giving her the opportunity to write publicly about bad porn – you’re a good dude.