Yes, comic books aren’t just for nerds and popcorn-munchers anymore; your local arthouse is getting in on the act. Specifically, they’re running Blue Is The Warmest Color, a controversial Palm d’Or winner about teenaged lesbians, based on the graphic novel Blue Angel. Haven’t heard of it? Here’s what you need to know.
I’m busy, give me the summary.
Teenage girls have explicit sex, and then break up because the French economic system.
…I’m very interested in the French economic system.
I’m sure you are.
This is based on a comic book?
Yep, a graphic novel originally published in French by Julie Maron. You can actually buy it from Amazon for Kindle, if you’re so inclined.
How is it?
Well, I had to read the English translation as my French is so bad I once had a French person assume I was mentally impaired, and translations can ruin even great comics. Furthermore one suspects to get the full effect you’ve got to be a French lesbian, and if you’re neither, there’s probably a limit to what you can get out of it.
That said, it’s really your basic coming-of-age story. It’s not a bad book, but the opening, with our protagonist struggling to figure out just what the hell is going on with her emotionally and why she’s attracted to women, has a far more honest ring to it than the latter half of the book, which is where the actual plot resides. That Maron started it when she was nineteen probably tells you all you need to know.
Ah. So the movie is substantially better, then, what with the Palm d’Or and all?
Not so much! This is the kind of movie that will stridently tell you homophobia is bad but it can’t be bothered to explain why. It’s really more concerned with saying that poor people shouldn’t have sex with rich people, even if they’re hot lesbians. That’s not the intended message, but the harangue about economics is so unsubtle and badly delivered, and the movie so uncomfortably lecherous, that’s how it comes off. Did I mention there’s three hours of this crap?
That sounds mind-numbing.
Really, if it weren’t for the sex scenes, this movie wouldn’t be in theaters.
How are the sex scenes?
They’re explicit, long, and full of quite convincing fake vaginas. But they’re also not particularly erotic, partially because the actresses actually do a pretty good job of playing teenagers, so you’re more concerned with the emotional aspects, and partially because you realize it draws way too many cues from porn movies and suddenly things get weird.
So why was it the toast of Cannes, and why do people care?
Because teenage girls get naked and do each other, and since it’s long, boring, but has sex in it, it must be Art. And, to be fair, lesbians get short shrift in the film industry; I’m pretty sure the last movie about lesbians to get this high a profile was The Watermelon Woman, and that came out nearly twenty years ago and had to piss off a Congressman to do it. Also, this thing has been involved in a Category 5 sh*tstorm ever since it hit Cannes.
What, because of the gay parts?
Kind of. Here’s what’s been going on:
- Not surprisingly, the author of the graphic novel isn’t a big fan of how a straight guy portrays lesbian sex.
- The lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, who are really the only good parts, also got the Palm d’Or, which is extremely rare and a lot of people interpreted as a message to the director along the lines of “If we could stiff you and give them the award instead, we would.” Being as the director is a pretentious ass, he did not take this well.
- Then it came out that, unsurprisingly, the actresses were less than comfortable wearing fake vajayjays in front of the director. One likened it to abuse.
- Which led up to the director trying to block the release of the film. When he realized that he might be able to get an Oscar, he changed his mind, but that didn’t stop him from scolding her for not understanding what an amazing director he was.
Wow. That sounds way more compelling than the actual movie.
Oh, it is.
So, basically, it’s a stereotypical art film
Basically. There’s only one thing that consoles me, having seen this.
At least I don’t have to hear about how it didn’t pass the Bechdel Test.