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Blue Is the Warmest Colour shocks and impresses Cannes with graphic lesbian sex

Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Story by Jack Foley

A THREE hour film containing a scene of graphic lesbian sex has emerged as one of the leading contenders to land the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour just “happens to contain the lengthiest, most intimate and most graphic lesbian sex scenes in mainstream cinema history”, according to The Guardian. But it has also been described as “a landmark in cinematic depictions of lesbian love and female sexuality”.

The film, by Tunisian-born French director Abdellatif Kechiche, follows a love affair between a Frenchwoman and a teenage girl and has won praise for its tenderness and intensity.

Kechiche, whose previous work includes Black Venus and 2007’s Couscous, is deeply proud of the film but told Cannes he is willing to make some cuts to ensure the film is seen by as wide an audience as possible.

For although the film raised eyebrows because of its sexual content, it has shyed away from any controversy by virtue of the intelligence of its study of the relationship between the two young women as it grows from young first love into domesticity.

Variety, for instance, described it as “a searingly intimate character study marked by the most explosively graphic lesbian sex scenes in recent memory”.

While The Hollywood Reporter said that while it will “raise eyebrows with its show-stopping scenes of non-simulated female copulation”, it’s also “a passionate, poignantly handled love story which, despite an unhinged three-hour running time, is held together by phenomenal turns from Lea Seydoux and newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos”.

Critics have also praised the film’s honest depiction of a lesbian relationship in a festival that has also won praise for two more films confronting homosexuality: Stranger at the Lake and Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra.

Kechiche himself said his film is not specifically designed to make any commentary on that issue, however, even though he conceded he was comfortable if people took it that way.

Rather, speaking in the film’s production notes, he said the film is more “a love story with all the beauty that that involves”, adding: “I had more of a feeling that I was telling the story of a couple.”

Of the sex scenes, he said: “We shot the scenes as if they were paintings. We spent a lot of time lighting them so that they are really beautiful.”

His two stars, meanwhile, spoke candidly at Cannes about the challenge of filming them.

Seydoux, who plays the older of the two women, said: “I succeeded in forgetting that a camera was there.”

While Kechiche added: “We also had a great deal of fun. The actors felt they were enjoying themselves – while playing a part, of course.”

Sexual sensations aside, Kechiche maintains that the core of the film is deeply romantic and critics seem to agree, with many noting that the film’s three hour running time is not a moment too long even.

The final word goes to Kechiche, however, who said of the piece, which is loosely adapted upon a graphic novel by Julie Maroh.

“What I loved aside from the love story was the fact that this person missed their train, meets this woman, and her life totally changes: this meeting held out such tremendous promise. The idea that you meet someone by chance and it changes your life for ever. I was deeply touched by that idea.”

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