I begin by saying three things. I am not homosexual, and other than a few friends have no personal relationship with the homosexual experience. Second, I am not adverse to pornography, rather- I embrace it. Well.. I suppose I embrace me to it, but I’m certainly not a curmudgeon to nudity, or sexuality in a film. Lastly, there will be no spoilers, beyond what one could surmise from the trailer to this film, or IMDB “About” section.
A few things first- this film is breakthrough. Not in its storytelling (reportedly with 800 hours of footage shot!), not in its acting (although very well done), and not in its cinematography (which falls on the silly side at times (more on this later). This film is a breakthrough in that it is a film that centers around homosexuality, and relationships, but at no point falls into the tropes of “life is so hard” or “no one understands us” that so many films have used as a motivator before.
Also, this film is three full hours. It doesn’t feel like it, its really sweet, and ends satisfyingly- but three hours is brave of any film thats not an epic in todays marketplace. But that’s the interesting bit, this film doesn’t feel like it was necessarily made for a marketplace. Even in French-language cinema, which has been the most daring in the last 15 years, this feels more like a love letter to someone the viewer never gets to meet. Viscerally real, and almost amateurish; but not in the mind of low quality or poor content, amateurish in it feels voyeuristic on the experience of the lead character, Adèle.
The way in which the film is shot is also noteworthy. Hidden hues and colors play like a relationship mood-ring, subtle hints of blues and reds surrounded by earth tones. The colors play out almost like atmosphere around the actors in a dance- its almost tempting to watch the film without subtitles or sound, and I think the film would be no less beautiful without.
Now, quickly, the negatives. This is where the pornography bit from before comes out- and I’ll repeat: I’ve no issue with nudity, or sexuality in any format. What I do have an issue with is a product that is overshadowed by its use of nudity or sexuality. Here’s how: a six minute graphic sex scene. It takes something as subtle and in-place as Kate Winslet’s nude scene from Titanic, and turns it into the marionettes sex scene from Team America: World Police. It’s not erotic, (I don’t think it was meant to be), and it certainly wasn’t meant to be funny- so it just felt five minutes and forty five seconds of exploitative. This is one of several overly long sex scenes in this film that are just completely unnecessary. Those sections alone felt like they robbed the film of a great validity- as if they were kept in solely for the pleasure of the director, exposing himself to the audience and forcing us through it.
Let me make a converse analogy: Irreversible. Another stunning film, and probably in my top 10 of all time. The rape in this film is roughly six minutes as well (as I recall), and it never feels exploitive. Its savage, it drives the film in ways never experienced on camera. Its visceral, and heart wrenching. It works solely because of this, the viewer is forced to look away in revulsion, or stare in disbelief. The scenes in Blue are not emotional, they’re tedious, and while both the actresses are attractive, it’s overdone and removes the audience.
With that said, I appreciate what the film is doing. I appreciate that it doesn’t pander to the audience, or parade the gay and lesbian themes to the audience like some sideshow. Rather, the times that are not spent assumedly attempting to titillate, seem natural (as they should be, and are) rather than tiptoeing through their environments ashamed of what they are, or worse: loudly proclaiming their differences to their surroundings who really shouldn’t care.
Honestly… does the homosexual community get offended when straight sex happens? When they see straight couples? Too many films shout “We’re here!” when the message should be closer to “Its none of your business!”
A strong film, definitely worth a watch, fast forward through the sex- if you’re looking for a pornographic experience, download pornography. Rest assured, once you see anyone even approaching a sexual scenario, they’ll probably fuck- you’re safe to move on, and since the movie plays out like such a stream of consciousness experience, you’re safe to watch in sections. Warning: Subtitles required for non French speakers.