He may have directed this year’s Palme d’Or-winning film, but French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche hasn’t had the easiest time talking about it. After “Blue is the Warmest Color” (alternately titled “The Life Adele, Chapters 1 & 2” in France) won the top prize at Cannes, much of the media hype surrounding the movie focused on the six-and-a-half minute sex scene between its two young leads, played by 20-year-old newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, whose romance forms the bulk of the movie.
Coverage of the movie was initially complicated when the two actresses characterized their 10 day experience shooting the sex scene as so difficult that they vowed never to work with Kechiche again. But Kechiche himself didn’t make things any easier when, two weeks ago, he was quoted in a French magazine saying that the film shouldn’t be released because audience expectations had been “sullied” by controversy.
However, in an interview with Indiewire today ahead of the movie’s appearance at the New York Film Festival, Kechiche corrected the record: Of course he wants the movie released.
“It was a remark that just came out when I had the feeling the film wasn’t going to be seen the way I thought it should be seen,” said Kechiche, who has garnered acclaim in the past for his complex depictions of European society in films like “Black Venus” and “The Secret of the Grain,” as well as the César-winning “Games of Love and Chance,” another delicate teen romance. “It was a remark that was blurted out at that moment, but it’s not what I really think,” Kechiche added, speaking through a translator. “I was just afraid that was what was going on around the film would prevent people from seeing it for what it really was.”
Kechiche also said that the perception that his actors were furious about the movie was a misnomer. “I had a discussion with Adele that made it clear she wasn’t really saying what it sounded like she was saying,” he said. “With Lea Seydoux, it’s contradictory, because at Cannes she expressed so much joy and satisfaction from having worked on the film. Then there was this reversal with these other remarks, so I think she’s conflicted.”
With regard to the 28-year-old Seydoux, already a major celebrity in France, he speculated that she hadn’t simply changed her mind. “I think there are people around her that influenced her or even manipulated her,” he said. “It’s people who exact some sort of pleasure from undermining me or the film.” He emphasized that he was not referring to the actress’ grandfather, chairman of the French distribution company Pathé. “I’d like make this point very clearly: It has nothing to do with him and I’m not talking about him,” Kechiche said.
Overall, Kechiche said he was confident that “Blue is the Warmest Color” would manage to have a life beyond the media hoopla centered on its production. “I was surprised to see how much space the sex took up in the minds of people,” he said. “But it’s a question of a taboo that’s been shattered. The film will be seen in another light once that taboo has been eradicated.”
“Blue is the Warmest Color” screens today at the New York Film Festival. Sundance Selects will release the film theatrically on October 25.