Tag Archives: Blue is the Warmest Color

Gemma Arterton And Adèle Exarchopoulos Romance In French Drama ‘Orpheline’

The film Orpheline – while puzzling at first — stars four actresses (who don’t look alike) playing the same character, Sandra, through multiple stages of her life (the eldest of which is played by Blue is the Warmest Color‘s Adèle Exarchopoulos).

It also stars Gemma Arterton who plays Tara, a convicted bank robber who is adjusting to life on the outside world after seven years behind bars.

Arterton character also ends up as a potential love interest for Sandra.

Directed Arnaud des Pallières, Orpeheline won a positive response after debuting in the Special Presentations section at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.

Arterton, who accepted the role after winning wider acclaim for roles in Quantum of Solace and St. Trinian’s, previously expressed her regret at not being more discriminating in her choice of film roles in the past.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she admitted to appearing in some projects that, deep down, weren’t really to her taste – prompting her to consider independent film over mainstream blockbusters.

“Sometimes I’ve not put my foot down, I’ve been like: “Oh, thank you so much for the work! I’d better do it.” Rather than: “No, I don’t want to do that. No one makes films about women who want to run away.”

The actress described her taste in films as ‘quite subversive’, and said her agents had started to understand, now, she would rather star in something smaller, but glorious.

‘Desert Hearts’ Is Getting A Sequel

I remember when I saw Blue is the Warmest Color about three years ago; the bitter taste it left in me had nothing to do with the nature of the sex scenes, or about the guy waxing poetic about female orgasm in a room full of queer women. After all, it was the first movie solely about lesbians I ever saw after already having questioned my sexuality for a couple of years.

What felt the worst when I left the theatre, was that feeling of incompleteness, of having been let down: why wasn’t the scenario all dreamy, cliché and ideal? Why did Adèle cheat on Emma with a guy and they had to break up, drowning their sorrow in more spaghetti Bolognese?

I didn’t know why I felt that specific need; after all real life generally isn’t dreamy, cliché and ideal. That of course, until I knew: this movie, being the only lesbian movie I had seen up to that point, made up the 100% of lesbian representation I had in my life.

I know that this is no sufficient statistic sample to rely upon, but it still was, and it was trying to tell me one thing: as a queer woman you’ll never have a happy ending.

The following year I watched a dozen more of movies featuring queer women. The statistic sample broadened, and the result remained similar: most queer women in movies either end up with a guy, die, commit suicide or murder – and break up somewhere along the process. Whenever I wanted to discuss and criticize that –specifically for Blue is the Warmest Color and for this year’s Orange is the New Black episode-that-must-not-be-named-and-the-existence-of-which-I-still-refuse-to-acknowledge – people told me that they didn’t find that to be a problem: it was realistic. People break up in real life.

People die in real life. Lesbians and bi women are people, so naturally they break up, they die, and their stories have bad endings.

The thing is that, always statistically speaking, the endings for straight – and obviously cis – people in mainstream films and TV series are not always that realistic. There are hundreds of movies with discouraging and realistic endings, but for every such romantic movie, there is a dozen or romantic movies with pulled-by-the-hair, intensely enhanced, unlikely, unrealistic and unbelievably cheerful endings, in which it seems like the entire universe stopped dealing with its shit for a little while to get Brandon and Mary together in the middle of a rainy 5th Avenue on New Year’s Eve. Why couldn’t we just as easily have Brenda, Mary and their seven cats snuggle happily in their cottage on the last shot of a rom-com? Why do we have to dig so freaking deep in indie Imdb lists to find that rom-com?

The world of cinema, after all, is supposed to be the world of dreams. The world of everything, to be more specific: of dreams, of romance, of drama, of realism, yes, but also the world where everything could happen.

Well, everything apart from the cats and cottage and the happy lesbians.

This is exactly what made the 1986 indie movie Desert Hearts so special: in Donna Deitch’s movie, set in the 1950s, Professor Vivian Bell arrives in Nevada in order to get a divorce from an unsatisfying marriage, and meets Cay Rivvers at the ranch where she stays. Rivvers is an out lesbian who draws her into an affair and their romance sparks in a Western setting and soundtrack.

What’s amazing about this film is that the ending is uncharacteristically happy. It’s thought to be the first lesbian film where the protagonists not only survive till the end, but their relationship even gets stronger. Especially considering when it was made, this is somewhat a miracle, revolutionary even for today. It is thought to be a generally sweet and heartwarming film, following the two women, the problems they face and the building of their relationship in depth, featuring some great and unique scenes.

As Robin Morgan, author and second-wave feminist then said: “This was the first lesbian love story—first same-sex love story at all—in which the protagonists were not either porn actors and in which one or both of whom didn’t kill themselves at the end,” and today added that it could be hard for millennials to imagine the atmosphere of complete lesbian invisibility that prevailed back then.

Deitch was told that she would never be able to work in the same town again, and the actors who participated in the movie (even the ones in straight roles) were told that this was a career-ender. She said that after the film’s premier she received “not a very nice review” by The New York Times critic Vincent Canby, whom she later called “not a very nice man”. According to her, such a review from the New York Times was a death sentence back in the day, but Deitch wouldn’t give up: she advertised the film on her own with self-made leaflets that she handed around town with her brother, to people waiting outside cinemas.

Still, Desert Hearts almost reached box office records and was embraced by multiple film festivals when the movie was launched. Deitch was even asked by Oprah Winfrey to direct the TV miniseries The Women of Brewster Place, featuring one of the first lesbian couples that appeared on TV. Her TV career went on for 25 years and she won an Emmy award, a Hugo award and the Sundance Special Jury Prize for Desert Hearts.

After 25 years, Deitch announced at NBC Out, at a screening of the film at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the making of a sequel to the first movie Desert Hearts.  At the MoMA event, she introduced the stars Helen Shaver (Vivian Bell) and Patricia Charbonneau (Cay Rivvers) who stood up and kissed on the stage. Charbonneau’s daughter was also there. She was called “the Desert Hearts’ Baby” since her mother was pregnant with her during the screening of the film.

Deitch is raising funds for the sequel which will be set in New York – that being the only information that has been shared about the project. She recalled her fundraising process for the first movie that took two years to be completed, in the queer-hostile Hollywood environment of the ‘80s.

Deitch had to sell her house in order to raise money, as well as shares that costed $15,000 for a limited partnership. The main funding resources though, came from feminists and lesbians. “There were straight men, gay men, it was a mix,” she said, “People saw it as a potentially quite commercial film.”

Her fundraising methods were more like those used in political organizing than akin to normal Hollywood studio backing – money raised mostly within the community.

The sequel of Desert Hearts is enthusiastically expected, and we hope for it to set a path for more optimistic, encouraging queer movies that will remind us that we deserve a little piece of happiness in the world.

Male Directors Objectified Lesbian And Bi Women Is Still A Growing Trend

The talk about queer representation in the media is one that we’re constantly having, and with every validated right to do so. It’s not a cliché, it shouldn’t be considered one, no matter how much we discuss it, since it has only so many angles to see how it is reflected upon our everyday life, choices, and the formation of our personalities and identities.

I – shamefully – fear discussing trans rights – that legitimately happen to affect my life – with my parents, because I know from the beginning it will be a lost cause due to a harmful and problematic generalization they have formed in their minds because of Greek TV, and I also live in a society that constantly erases one part of my identity, bisexuality – urging even me to question it at times – because some popular series and films make bisexual girls a punchline, or outright refuse to utter the damn word, as if it carries smallpox.

When we discuss representation of queer women on TV, a lot of things can be said, some of them being rightfully optimistic. Contrasting to five years ago, European and American big and small screens can boast for several films and series that do have well-rounded LGBT women in them, queer women that are not the butt of the joke anymore, but actually realistic and interesting characters that other women can relate to.

Of course, there are some major issues due to which we can agree we have cried or ranted at least once: our favorite LGBT female characters will either suffer and die, suffer and break up (because no ending can be a happy ending in same-sex female relationships, while at the same time we’re flooded with a storm of unnecessarily cheesy heterosexual happy endings that the point in counting has been lost about fifty years ago), or sexualized and used as tropes by male directors, even when the characters are well-developed, such as Emma in Blue is the Warmest Color.

This year brought us The Handmaiden, a South Korean psychological thriller adaptation of Sarah Water’s Fingersmith that is considered cinematographically a masterpiece.

In Shannon Keating’s article on BuzzFeed, parallels are drawn between Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, Todd Haynes’ Carol and Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color that are seen as sharing certain elements that point out they were written by women and directed by men.

Respectively, Carol was written by Patricia Highsmith in 1952 and Blue Is the Warmest Color was based on a graphic novel written by Julie Maroh.


All three movies are seen as turning same-sex relationships between women into aesthetically pleasing compositions that focus on panoramic views of almost identical, thin, white bodies, catering to the needs of a mostly male audience, instead of depicting romantic and sexual feelings realistically in ways that lesbian and bisexual women usually experience them.

But how is that tendency explained?

Female sexuality is still perceived by society at large, as something that, in one way or another either belongs to men, belongs to them, can be controlled by men, or somehow exists to cater to their needs. Even queer women are not easily seen – or depicted, in art and popular media – as people who own, perform and share their sexuality with themselves or with other women. That is sadly seen in real life, with LGBT women facing the threats of hate crimes, corrective rapes, harassment and lastly, fetishization.

In many movies and TV series, lesbianism or bisexuality are often punch lines for “experimentation” or “can I watch” jokes, that make men entitled to women’s sexuality even when they’re not invited, depicting queer women as owing something to men who deserve it, either eye-candy, or the trophy of ending up with them after going through a phase. These are extremely harmful stereotypes, especially when lesbians and bisexual women have to fight all the time to have their identities accepted and validated.

Besides, women are denied the rights to their sexuality, while at the same time depicted as solely sexual beings. Marketing campaigns and ads that show women read as involved, usually underline lust and conventional beauty, with women staring directly at the photographic lens – and the viewer – instead of at each other. There are much fewer popular ads depicting women that share a deep emotional bond between them, forming a family together and being visibly invested in each other.


Now, even though representation standards are better met up to than they used to be, one can’t put their finger on diversity: most bi and lesbians in the examples of recent films are conventionally feminine, responding to social beauty standards, and usually white. The Handmaiden has South Korean women and The Pariah black (and less gender-conforming) teenager girls from Brooklyn, but these movies definitely are not the norm. Even in Orange is the New Black, the majority of the non-straight women loved by the fans – aside from Poussey but don’t even get me started on that – are pretty homogenous.

In The Handmaiden, the two protagonists appropriate two Ben Wa balls used as weapons earlier in the film to use them as sex toys, in the symmetrical, aesthetically arranged final scene of the movie, in ways that have been criticized as non-realistic by women viewers who love and have sex with women. The two women engage in several occasions in role-play and symbolic dressing-up, only to soon return to their feminine – sexual – selves.

At this point though, I cannot forget the almost comical exaggerations of Blue is the Warmest Color, how I watched it while accepting my own sexuality and seeing it as a test I failed into: the torturously long scissoring scenes had seemed so boring to me it almost worked as an affirmation I should probably leave questioning sexualities to other people, more bi or more lesbian than I was. Of course, that was a ridiculous way to think at 17 but, if you think about it, it’s also not. Being with a girl, as a discovered later, was in no way as boring as that movie had made it seem.


Not to mention that, as Léa Seydoux said in interviews, a sex scene took ten days to shoot, while the two women were asked to do things that made them feel humiliated.

The Handmaiden also has a controversial – according to many – scissoring scene.

What’s even more eyebrow-raising worthy than the scissoring shenanigans is the entitled guy in the party in Blue is the Warmest Color who sees women as his muses and gives an inspirational ridiculous speech about female orgasms, in a movie, let me remind you, that features two female protagonists being in a relationship with each other.

In a much more refined way, Carol also shows an obsession with aesthetics – which is not a weird thing when you talk cinema – in ways that, according to Keating’s analysis, works into a pattern of women mirroring each other or comparing themselves to each other, just because they are both women.

Added to that, Keating adds that queer women have had enough of their sex lives being depicted as spectacles for straight men, depicting scissoring more often than not and avoiding explicit “finger-dialogues”, as they are often not seen as valid, “full sex” for cishet people. Heaven forfend if they ever show a strap-on on the screen, a woman or a gender-non-conforming person pleasing another woman or GNC completely satisfactorily in a way a male viewer has learnt to think only he would be able to.

All women, and especially queer women, should stop being viewed as owing their sexuality to men, whether that is its direct performance, or a pass for men “to share”. Men don’t own our bodies, our minds, sexualities and experiences, and they shouldn’t feel entitled to fit everywhere within those borders. Sometimes, depictions of queer women that do not come from queer women themselves, but are a product of a cishet male gaze, contribute to these problems, and this is an issue we can’t leave out of our conversation for representation.

What are Ellen Page’s Favourite Lesbian Films? We Have The Answers

Ellen Page and Julianne Moore are currently promoting their well-crafted lesbian movie, Freeheld.

In a recent video interview, Page names a few lesbian themed movies she loves – Desert Hearts, Blue is the Warmest Color and Fucking Amal (Show Me Love). Excellent choice!

However, Moore adds some other cool LGBT films to the list (including those she’s been in) and Ellen is quick to add A Single ManThe Kids Are All Right and The Hours.

Discover the best in Lesbian Films on demand over at KitschMix.TV