Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Blue is the Warmest Colour. Review.

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On lâche rien!

Abdellatif Kechiche is the director of La Faute à Voltaire (200))  and La Graine et le Mulet (2007) and Vénus noire (2010). All three are moving dramas, with a political message.

The first, about a young Tunsian ‘clandestine’ in France. It takes  its title from the song by the street urchin Gravoche, in Victor Hugos’ Les Misérables as he fights and dies on the Paris Barricades defending liberty in the 183o Revolution

« Je suis tombé par terre,
C’est la faute à Voltaire,
Le nez dans le ruisseau,
C’est la faute à Rousseau
. »

The second, is a beautiful story of a mixed French and North African family in Sète (Occitan Seta). The main character, Monsieur Beiji, opens a restaurant after a lifetime working on a naval dockyard. The lives and hardships of the working class families in the picture, a true ‘métissage’ of cultures, are portrayed with enduring warmth.

Vénus noire is about the “Hottontot Venus”. It is tale of colonial exploitation as a young African woman, exhibited like an animal in a London freak show. It has,as far as I aware, not had a proper release in Britain.

La Vie d’Adèle , Chapitres 1 & 2, in English,  Blue is the Warmest Colour,  won the  Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival.

The jury and its its president, Steven Spielberg, insisted the prize was given not only to  Abdellatif Kechiche, but also by his two young stars, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.

The prize was well merited.

Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a lycée student, who, after unsatisfactory fling with a male fellow lycéen, begins to discover that she is attracted to other girls. An exchange of glances in the street, a “coup de foudre” (love at first sight), with blue-dyed hair Emma (Léa Seydoux ) leads to  passionate embraces and deep affection.

The backdrop, gay bars, a Pride event,  and a scene in which the young students join a stirring demonstration against the privatisation of education (just in front of the CGT), indicates a wider cultural and political context.

Emma is a student of Beau arts, while Adèle, after a Literary ‘Bac’ becomes a teacher in an école maternelle  The film is the story of their relationship. Intellectually Adele does not integrate into her partner’s artistic world. Other tensions grow…

The author of the bande dessinée (graphic novel)  Le bleu est une couleur chaude (Glénat),  Julie Maroh, on which the film is based, has questioned the authenticity of the lesbian sex scenes.

The two actresses have accused  Kechiche of controlling their performances to the point of harassing them. He has defended himself, though in declaring that his stars give “toute une existence” to the role one can see a potential difficulty.

Blue is the warmest Colour remains simply wonderful.

Long, at 179 minutes, the time does not drag for instant – though I could have done without the subtitles (though I generally managed to ignore them  into American Valley Girl slang.

Apart from its artistic qualities Blue is a political statement in favour of gay rights.

As the student demonstrators in the film shouted, On lâche rien!

A translation of this (shouted at scores of French demos) could be, “We Won’t Give A Fucking Inch!

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

One Response

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  1. Mat C points this out:

    Andrew Coates

    December 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm


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