Nothing missed with cuts to movie Blue Is The Warmest Color

Sex scene snipped does not affect plot, say some moviegoers

Blue Is The Warmest Color's Adele Exarchopoulos (far left) and Lea Seydoux (left).
Blue Is The Warmest Color's Adele Exarchopoulos (far left) and Lea Seydoux (left). PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

Even before it opened in cinemas here last week, the controversial 2013 Palme d'Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color had already drawn some attention to itself here for the eight minutes cut from it, before it was passed with a R21 rating for local audiences.

The cuts were made by distributor Shaw Organisation in relation to scenes showing strong, prolonged and explicit homosexual sex, which exceed local classification guidelines.

Singaporeans that Life! spoke to were divided over these cuts and also had mixed reviews of the film as a whole.

The French film by writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche explores the notions of sexual identity and love through the life of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), a pretty junior high school student. She becomes deeply attracted to Emma (Lea Seydoux), an older arts student, and the two begin a relationship.

The film is shown at Shaw, Golden Village and Cathay cinemas.

Housewife May Koh, 38, who has two boys aged six and nine, was surprised that the film made it to mainstream cinemas, considering its graphic sex scenes. "The film also promotes values that our society may not be mature enough to grapple with at this point," she adds.

Others such as civil servant Alan Ho, 35, were glad that the film made it here. "It is an acclaimed film that explores the realities and complexities of life and society."

Adds the bachelor, in reference to Irreversible, a 2002 film starring actress Monica Bellucci which has violent sequences including a nine-minute rape scene: "Ever since that film made it to mainstream cinemas here in 2004, nothing surprises me anymore."

Blue Is The Warmest Color contains several explicit sexual scenes between the two women, one of which is a "realistic" seven-minute sequence.

The sex scenes have been highly debated and there is some criticism in the international arena, with one reviewer saying the film "feels far more about Mr Kechiche's desires than anything else".

The seven-minute scene was cut for local audiences, as was another where the two women have sex after dinner with Emma's parents. What remains is a scene where the two women have sex after dinner with Adele's parents, a masturbation scene and a scene where Adele has sex with a boy.

Responding to the snips, lawyer Peter Low, 63, who is married with three daughters aged 29, 25 and 23, felt he "did not miss anything more" than what was necessary to the storyline. He says the lesbian sex scene that remained in the film was "not gross, not distasteful, perhaps because it was short".

"Otherwise, it could end up being pornographic," he says.

Poet and fund manager Madeleine Lee, 51, a single parent with two teenage boys, watched both the cut and uncut versions of the film. She felt that the seven-minute sex scene in the uncut version "started well and then, frankly, became slightly repetitive".

She adds, however, that Kechiche did capture the "appetite" of their passion and taken in the context of Adele's story and her zest, juxtaposed against her innocence, the scene "becomes an exploration of desire, fulfilment or the lack of".

Mr Ho, who also watched both versions, agrees that the sex scenes have to be seen contextually, as he felt that the removal of the extended love- making scene may make it hard for viewers to understand why the lovers' eventual break-up was so painful.

Madam Koh, who watched the uncut version, disagreed and pointed out the scene where Emma accedes to Adele after their break-up that the sex between them was better than with her current partner. "This point is verbally communicated to us, so it is not necessary to show it visually via a seven- minute sequence," she says.

Artistic director of Nine Years Theatre Nelson Chia, 42, who is married with twin girls, aged 10, says the length of the sequence in question ought to be examined alongside Kechiche's treatment of the other aspects of Adele's life.

"The director spends considerable time narrating other scenes. For example, he shows Adele's family and her work as a teacher several times in the film. Sex is also part of her life. If I were the director, I would want to give equal weightage to that component to narrate it properly," he says.

Mr Chia enjoyed the movie for its poignancy, as did Mr Ho. The latter says: "Adele's uninhibited efforts to hold on to someone who's moved on to a different partner at the end was painful to watch."

For Ms Lee, she appreciated the way that Kechiche commented on divisions of class, gender and viewpoints, through looking at the relationships in the family and among friends and partners.

Madam Koh found the film's storyline unique, but nevertheless was disturbed but its portrayal of relationships. "The heterosexual position is subtly depicted as intolerant, and the director seems to suggest that satisfying one's feelings matters most when choosing the type of relationship to be in," she says.

Blue Is The Warmest Color is showing in cinemas.

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