Last year, the French lesbian flick Blue Is the Warmest Color, which premiered at Cannes two Octobers ago, was notable in its absence from Slate’s roundup of the best queer moments of 2013. Of course, that was before Slate made the questionable decision to allow a queer-culture hating contrarian to start weighing in on queer topics. As a modern, mainstreamed, assimilationist queer person I’ve never felt much need for segregated cultural offerings, with one exception—my ongoing search for better, hotter depictions of lesbian sexuality. That’s why my favorite queer moment of 2014 was the streaming release of Blue Is the Warmest Color.
Taken as a whole, Blue contained a few too many tears and too much conversation for my tastes. The first hour or so isn’t bad—I like the kiss shared by the young protagonist Adèle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulis) and a flirty straight friend on the high-school bleachers, and Adèle’s awkward first visit to a lesbian bar. But the movie goes on way too long, and not enough of it is sexy. Out of the nearly three hours the viewer spends watching Adèle awaken as a young lesbian and fall head-over-heels for blue-haired Emma, only 10 minutes, tops, are spent watching Adèle and Emma bang each other. This means there is an awful lot of time left over for relationship drama, emotions, and other boring stuff.
However, thanks to the miracle of Netflix, one can skip over all the dull parts and get right to what’s important. The lesbian sex in Blue Is the Warmest Color is lush and desperate and intensely physical. The characters don’t just stroke or touch each other longingly, they grab and thrust at and collide with one another’s bodies. They do not trade those gentle, lingering kisses we’re so used to seeing between onscreen lesbians, or languish prettily before the camera. No, they consume and devour and attempt to suck each other dry. These are the sorts of sex scenes one watches three-hour-long French movies for—the sort of sex that happens early on in the type of relationships that have nothing but sex going for them. Blue’s sex scenes have been derided as unrealistic by some queer women, but few could look you in the eye and say they aren’t at least a little sexy.
Personally, I’ve always thought that it’s these overly narrow beliefs about what other people’s sex lives look like that are unrealistic. The scissoring scene, in particular, is one that’s been held up for ridicule. Lesbians, please. My first girlfriend informed me that scissoring was created by straight men and that no real woman could get off that way. Did the rest of the lesbian community all date her, too? Because, at least in my case, once I actually deigned to try it, scissoring turned out to be fantastic. And, for at least some of us with an interest in that act, the scissoring scene in Blue Is the Warmest Color is a revelation.
In most cases, I’m no more interested in watching straight girls faking orgasms than any other lesbian; but the performances in Blue are medal-worthy. Exarchopoulis in particular, has an exquisitely expressive face that makes me believe fully in the character whenever she’s on camera. And Lea Seydoux, who plays Emma, has lesbian eyes if I have ever seen them. It takes a real grinch to go on about objectification this and male gaze that when we lesbians have so few decent sex scenes in the cinema. So, knock it off, queer lady consensus. The lesbian sex scenes in Blue Is the Warmest Color should echo, shake, and moan throughout the ages.