Blue is the Warmest Color
The girls, driven by desperation to escape their mundane lives to take part in Spring Break, scheme a robbery of the local chicken shack to raise the necessary funds to get there. To psyche themselves up for the crime, they exhort each other to pretend it’s a video game, to detach themselves and dehumanize their victims in a hurried pep talk to the same end as the grueling boot camp scenes sequences in ‘Full Metal Jacket.’
Check out all of the posts from our Female Gaze Theme Week here.
The female gaze, such as it exists in a world that denies its existence, is an insular one that exists between Adele and Emma as opposed to how the film itself is shot. The film presents the case for the female gaze by examining what happens when it’s withheld.
The concept of the female gaze emerged in response to that of the male gaze, wherein the female viewer, and often the female creator, are the focus for a piece of media. However, finding instances of film or television that are truly representative of the female gaze is tricky. Just because something is about women doesn’t mean it is for women or even a realistic portrayal of how women see themselves.
Olson is one of the only butch-identified filmmakers who also makes films about butch identity. The closest another recent film has come to including “butch” anything was ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color,’ a film from a straight male director in which a straight actress, Léa Seydoux, played a recognizable butch. In that role Seydoux was still firmly within the bounds of what straight male directors and producers deem “fuckable“–conventionally pretty and sexy even with short hair, minimal makeup and “tomboy” outfits.
When I contemplate women in film, two thoughts come to mind: women in front of the camera, and women behind the camera. We are all familiar with the stereotypical female characters in movies and TV shows that portray traditional, predictable roles. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it isn’t teaching us anything new about what it’s like to actually be a woman. When I fell in love with independent film in the early 2000s, it was for one reason: I had never experienced anything as risky or as honest as filmmaking without rules or boundaries. This was especially true in terms of exploration of female characters. It was refreshing, enlightening and, eventually, life changing.
Today’s media landscape is fuller than ever with queer characters (though most of them are still white and/or male), yet the stories we see are still most commonly either angst-ridden fumbling towards a coming out or pregnancy and adoption dramas. It’s rare to see a fully realized queer character, too old for coming out and too young for children, actually dating and enjoying sexual encounters. It’s rarer still when it’s a woman.
It’s fantastic that there is a “Blue is the Warmest Color” comic book French film adaptation that is receiving such praise. Not only that, but the graphic novel was written and drawn by a woman, Julie Maroh. However, because I really admire the graphic novel source material (…even though it is a bit overwrought…I mean, hey, what love story isn’t?), I feel compelled to critique the film for the myriad changes that were actively made from comic to screenplay, which remove much of the drama and complexity from the storyline.
The Sex Scenes Are Shit, and the Director’s an Asshole, but You Should Still See ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’
A three-hour art film about two queer women with subtitles is like a dream come true for me: I’ve sat through arty, subtitled films twice that long–which didn’t have a trace of queer content. So I’ve obsessively read everything I can about Blue Is The Warmest Color. And I’m puzzled. In an age when writers of color like Wesley Morris and Roxane Gay bring added perspective and insight to their reviews of films like, Django Unchained and 12 Years A Slave, why are straight men the overwhelming majority of people telling the world whether or not the sex scenes in Blue are convincing?
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Written by Rachel Redfern Film poster for Blue is the Warmest Color Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color is the first film with a lesbian protagonist to win the prestigious Palm D’or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The French drama is based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel and centers on the life of […]