The French film that won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is the subject of a bitter row between its director and leading actress.
Abdellatif Kechiche, whose film Blue is the Warmest Colour received the top prize, called his leading star Léa Seydoux ‘spoilt and oversensitive’ due to her being born ‘wrapped in cotton wool’. His remarks about her gilded upbringing brought a tearful response from the actress who angrily denied being a member of the privileged classes.
It all started when Seydoux, and Adèle Exarchopolous, her nineteen-year-old co-star, described Kechiche, aged fifty-two, as a tyrant who forced them to perform humiliating sexual scenes for the movie – which is about the lesbian love between their two characters. They also revealed that he had made Seydoux hit her co-star during a fight scene and obliged them to continue acting even though Exarchopolous was bleeding and in tears. Both actresses described their five-month shoot as horrible and said that they would never work for him again.
The malaise of the dispute is overshadowing a US tour to promote the film now that Kechiche hit back in an interview for French television: ‘You don’t come to do promotion in Los Angeles if you have a problem with the director,’ he said. ‘If Léa had not been born wrapped in cotton wool, she would never have said that.’ The director also suggested that she was an incompetent actress.
Seydoux’s grandfather, Jérome, has a fortune estimated at more than £842 million. Her father, Henri, owns a Bluetooth technology firm, and Nicholas, her great uncle, is chairman of Gaumont, France’s biggest cinema chain. The actress was truly distressed and burst into tears when told of Kechiche’s attack: ‘My family never helped me. I never criticised Kechiche. I only talked of his approach,’ she said.
All this sounds ridiculous. Both sides to the dispute seem to get the wrong end of the stick through the heat of a spat that is unbecoming of all the parties concerned. The film received great acclaim by those who had seen it in Cannes and the sexual scenes between the two lesbian lovers broke new ground in filmmaking. The audience were mesmerised by its raw and sexual impact despite its three-hour duration.
The love between people of the same gender is more intense, more passionate and highly possessive. Unlike a heterosexual relationship, it has an urgency that’s deep-seated in its genes. As the subject is of paramount importance in the film I can’t wait to see it. No doubt I will learn something I didn’t know. As sex is the life blood of our existence, the more we perceive its diversity, the less prejudice we harbour and the more understanding we gain. The complexity of the human mind and its emotions will always intoxicate and baffle as long as the beating heart continues on its journey until its final destination.
French films I find, on the whole, have a certain authenticity and are more true to life than some American films – which are sometimes overloaded with superficiality in order to enhance their commercial success at the box office. Let us now earnestly hope that the warring parties will see sense and close ranks in promoting the film which many consider a masterpiece of its kind.
Fracases of this nature demean artistic endeavours and render them guilty of self-indulgence.