Friday, May 09, 2014

A different kind of Blue

Last night I finally found enough time to sit down and watch the three-hour film of Blue is the Warmest Color, based on the graphic novel I finished reading recently. I’d heard some mixed reviews about it from friends, but I’d consciously avoided reading any reviews about it, as I normally do for movies I know I’m going to see eventually. That was probably a very good decision in this case.

First of all, I really liked the film. It followed the book very closely, which I’d heard was not the case. The ending is different, but not in a way that I find objectionable. It’s a typically ambiguous French ending, recognizing that even after great upheavals happen life goes on.

I think a lot of people focus on the sex in this movie and try to dissect its authenticity or the director’s agency. There is certainly a role for that kind of critical analysis in film but for me, it typically comes after repeated viewings. On a first viewing, especially for a love story, I want to watch with an open heart. To me, film is an art form that deserves to be considered as a personal statement by the director, although I recognize that is naive when you consider how many people are involved in financing and creating a studio film (including the original author, in this case).

Anyway, the purpose of this blog is not film studies, but rather to filter through my personal lens of life experience. Watching the early part of the movie when Adele is in high school, it made me wonder how differently I would have turned out if I’d grown up a girl. I wonder what kind of people would have been my friends, and how we would have influenced each other. The role of Adele’s parents was greatly diminished from the book, but I think in my alternate reality, they would have been a much bigger part of my life.

The movie focused on the great love between Adele and Emma, and of course I related it to the one between me and Tara. The love itself may not last, but the impact it has on our lives almost always does. Maybe that’s why love can be so scary sometimes. People often fear change – when things are going well, we fear losing the good things we have; when things are bad, we fear them getting worse.

For myself, I hope for change. Without change, I feel stagnant and what’s worse, I feel myself getting more and more comfortable with stagnation. I’m always hopeful that each day will bring an opportunity to discover something new (part of the reason why I blog about such minutiae, so I can recognize when important things happen, even if they don't seem that important at the time). Last month, Puck and I were walking in Brooklyn late at night after visiting Hancock Street (Rijard and Miriam’s place) and we spontaneously burst into singing “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story. I love that feeling that Tony sings about, the feeling that something is just around the corner, waiting for me.

As a love story, Blue hit it out of the park for me. I strongly identified with the moments of connection, the crazy passion of not being able to keep hands off each other, and the suffering post-breakup. The scene where Adele goes back to their park bench was heartbreaking.

I didn't really care about the sex scenes very much. I thought they were tastefully done, and they were in balance the other scenes of dinners, work and life in general. Unduly focusing on them for criticism probably says more about the critic than the filmmaker. For me, sex and love are two very different things. I can live without the first but not the second.

I know this is probably a point where a lot of people disagree, but I really liked all the business with Adele’s hair. I enjoyed seeing how she changed the way she wore it and cared for it as she grew older. It was like a whole separate character in the movie. Again, this has more to do with how my own life experience is different than most people’s.

I think most of all I liked the way the movie captured the feeling of longing, of passion and of connectedness that people feel when they are in love, especially in a first real love. What a powerful yet ephemeral feeling it is! Movies like this remind me that such feelings are possible, something I never want to forget. Even if I’m never again in the position to experience them firsthand, just that reminder is important to sustain my view of the world.