Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) is a movie that changed the film industry. This movie was considered controversial due to its erotic scenes and taboo storyline. In the movie it shows the progression of two characters who are go through pursuit of love, sex, and career ambition. It follows them through multiple years and through separation. This movie has won many awards and recognition for its acting and cinematography. Although it broke down barriers of the portrayal of female sexuality it also built some.
The movie, Blue Is The Warmest Color, is the main subject of this evaluation, and can be found on Netflix.
The movie focuses on a shy 17-year-old high-school girl, Adèle. During school her friends are constantly gossiping about boys, and they convince her to date one boy. While they were dating she is walking across a street and sees a woman with blue hair and is immediately attracted to this mysterious girl. After having sex with her boyfriend, she realizes how dissatisfying it was and tells him that she is a lesbian and doesn’t want to continue dating him. After Adèle fantasizes about the woman with blue hair, then shares a kiss with a friend who is a girl, Adèle is having trouble with her sexuality. She confides in a male friend of hers who is gay, and he takes her to a gay club to meet new people. She leaves this club and goes into a lesbian bar across the street, where she runs into the woman with the blue hair, Emma. They become friends, Adèle learns that Emma is an art student who is close to graduating.
While in school still, Adèle’s friends began to taunt her, claiming she’s a lesbian and begin shun her. As this is happening she becomes closer with Emma and they eventually end up in a relationship with each other. They continue their relationship for a few years and even live with each other as Adèle finishes school and becomes a teacher at an elementary school. Time passes and they realize that they have very little in common, Emma is a painter and Adèle an elementary school teacher. In a twist of events, Adèle sleeps with a male colleague, leaving Emma extremely hurt and mad. She kicks Adèle out of the apartment, who becomes overwhelmed with sadness.
The next time they see other is a run-in in a restaurant, where Adèle realizes she’s still still in love with Emma, who is in a relationship a woman with a young child, Lise. Adèle is devastated about Emma’s new relationship, but Emma tells her that she will always have a place in her heart for her. More time passes and Adèle visits one of Emma’s art shows where there is a nude portrait of her that Emma did while they were still together. Adèle congratulates her and leaves the show after talking to a young man who runs after her as she leaves but turns the wrong way and Adèle walks away into the direction of a figure in the darkness.
The director of this movie is Abdellatif Kechiche. He created this movie to be projected towards a gay and lesbian audience as a romantic drama, which is the primary purpose of the movie, along with creating a gay and lesbian genre.
Blue is the Warmest Color thought provoking storyline allows lesbians to be represented in the film industry. Although it breaks barriers it also implements stereotypes. Adele and Emma, the two main characters, enforce gender bias. First through their appearance. Adele is considered more feminine, by having longer hair than Emma. Emma has short hair and is obviously portrayed as more masculine. Clothing as well show their differences. Adele becomes accustomed to wearing skirts and dresses while Emma has a more masculine attire. But the gender bias become more apparent when near the middle of the film. It occurs when Adele and Emma’s relationship is longer term. Adele is seen as the one taking care of the household and stresses over the dinner party. While Emma is the one rising in her career and has built a social network. They perpetrate the stereotype that there needs to be a man and woman in the relationship. One that is masculine the other more feminine.
Many critics state that Blue is the Warmest Color feature a “heteronormative appropriation of a gay relationship.” This specifically occurs during the fight scene between Adele and Emma. Adele is seen as very emotional while Emma is more aggressive and assertive. Like noted before this is equivalent to a men and women stereotypical relations/interactions.
Another critique of Blue is the Warmest Color was that the actresses that were hired and were performing on set were not in fact lesbians. The actresses were not lesbians but were representing lesbians was seen as problematic to the LGBT community. Another issue was the 10 minute long lesbian sex scene. The sex scene was considered controversial. In many instances it did not depict lesbian sex as reality since it was two heterosexual women performing. The LGBT community was disappointed since it was another lesbian sex scene that was portrayed and illustrated through a male director. It molded the male fantasy instead of actuality of how lesbians would have sex.
Meaning and Possible Interpretations
Blue is the Warmest Color is a coming of age movie where they feature pursuing love, sex, career ambitions, and breakups. It showcases a taboo relationship that goes against mainstream movies. It provides a framework for others to follow as well as improve on. The movie shows a passionate relationship which spurs from a realization of the main character, Adele’s sexuality. And shows how chaotic and harmful it maybe. The movie showed the meaning of female sexuality and the significance of how it is lost in mainstream romance movies. The movie was realistic and carried symbolism throughout. Such as the utilization of the ‘blue’. Emma, Adele’s lover, hair was blue but throughout the movie everything was tinted blue. This was supposed to bring a dream like effect to each scene and give a darker more serious tone.
Comparison with Rational Models
In comparison to rational model, lesbian relationships are do not have a more masculine or feminine, man/woman in the relationship. In the movie Adele and Emma stuck with gender stereotypes/bias. Although in the beginning of the movie this wasn’t apparent it developed once their relationship developed. In another rational model lesbian movies usually end in tradegy. This occurs because storylines for other sexuality is limited.
Depicting these stereotypes and showcasing them to a large mass could be destructive to the LGBT community. It can perpetrate false fantasies and behaviors and create more typecasts. Lesbians may not feel correctly represented in a movie that is praised for representation of their demographic. This is a concern because although fiction it shows inaccurate behaviors such as sex and relations. Already there is so many stereotypes concerning the gay and lesbian community so this could be harmful to their progression.
Blue is the Warmest Color exposed us to a whole new lifestyle. At first, Adele did not want to accept the fact that she was attracted to girls. However, she decided to test the waters and find out what she really wanted. She went to gay bars etc., to feel out the atmosphere and decide if that is what she really wanted. She ended up realizing she was, in fact, a lesbian, and she wanted to act on her feelings. However, she did not tell her parents about Emma, her lesbian lover, even though Emma told her parents. Adele simply told her parents Emma was her tutor.
Blue is the Warmest Color taught us that accepting who you are is always the right thing to do. If you hide or deny who you are, you will be miserable. While Adele was trying to figure out who she was, she was not happy. She was confused, and she wanted people to accept her. She then realized the only person she had to please was herself.
This movie showcases a whole new side to the LGBT culture. Blue is the Warmest Color exposes a young girl who is trying to find her path. And doing so, she has encounters with multiple women, even one who is pregnant. Blue is the Warmest Color pushes the boundaries and does not sugar coat anything.
The movie could use actresses that have shared experiences to be more realistic. If the actresses were the same sexuality they were portraying it would be enhance the movie. Since the movie was criticized for having erotic scenes that were similar to porn and not realistic in terms of lesbian intercourse this could be changed to perpetrate stereotypes.
Likelihood of Change
Change might not occur due to the film’s industry need to please male fantasy than reality.
There is not many lesbian film movies that cast lesbian actresses. Such as the movie The Kids Are All Right both actresses casted to portray lesbians were not in fact lesbians this trend needs to be suppressed.
Watching the movie changed my perspective of the way sexuality of females are portrayed in the media. Although Blue is the Warmest Color is not considered perfect it showed a different viewpoint. The LGBT community is often depicted and portrayed in stereotypes so the movies broke barriers but they also built some. It concerns me because if this situation pertained to me I would not want to be illustrated in way I was not wanted to.
Blue Is the Warmest Color. Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche. Perf. Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche. Quat’sous Films, 2013. Film.