With the Palme d’Or-winning epic lesbian drama “Blue is the Warmest Color” opening in theaters stateside this Friday, director Abdellatif Kechiche has hit the web, penning an enraged open letter (titled “To Those Who Sought to Destroy ‘Blue is the Warmest Color'”) at website Rue89, slamming his outspoken star Léa Seydoux as well as critics who have taken issue with the three-hour film.
The letter comes at the tail end of a press tour that kicked off in the U.S. with Kechiche’s stars Seydoux and newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos telling The Daily Beast that they’d never work with the filmmaker again, and Seydoux saying she felt “trapped” on set and that she didn’t feel respected while shooting the film’s racy sex scenes.
What’s followed since has threatened to overshadow their collective achievement. To recap: Kechiche confronted the two at an LA press conference that ended in tears; later told the French press that the film shouldn’t be released; then told Indiewire that of course he wants the film released, explaining that “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.”
With regards to Seydoux, Kechiche told Indiewire during the New York Film Festival that he believes she’s just “conflicted.” But in his open letter, he slams the star, calling her an “arrogant and spoiled child.”
He writes, “Miss Seydoux, who after having repeatedly thanking me publicly and privately and having wept in my arms at Cannes for allowing her to take on this noble role … has, against all odds and all personal coherence, radically changed her attitude towards me.”
In the passage of the letter dubbed “The Opportunistic Calculations of a Young Léa ” Kechiche goes as far to call her actions “slanderous,” saying “I will come back; it is for her to explain in court.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ongoing controversy hasn’t hurt the film at the French box office, where it’s gone to sell 261,000 tickets in its first week of release on 285 screens, a notably good showing because of the nature of the film and its seat-testing length. How all this will affect its performance stateside remains to be seen.