So...Blue is the Warmest Color. Have you heard about this movie? It's a 3 hour long, kinda artsy foreign movie that follows a lesbian relationship, and it probably didn't play in a theater close to you or at least didn't play for more than a week, so you likely didn't get a chance to check it at a theater, but you might have caught it on Netflix or something. If you did catch it, then you also probably had heard about some of the controversy surrounding it.
1. There was a lot of talk about the long graphic sex scenes between the 2 main characters - was it necessary? was it too porny? was it lesbian enough? was it deep meaningful art?..etc...etc...
2. The director seems like he just might be a huge, raging asshole. Those two actresses playing the main characters later said in a Daily Beast Article that the director was horrible on set, that doing the sex scenes sucked a whole hell of lot more than it should have, and that they would never work for him again. The crew on that movie also had lots of bones to pick with the director over bad working conditions and pay.
So all that to give a little background because I think it's useful context for doing this SSL review; if you read the interview I linked above, you'd find that these two leading ladies were not lesbians and didn't feel they knew anything about how lesbians might have sex. They shot these sex scenes (and every scene, really) like a thousand times, forever and ever, with an asshole director, and they were not choreographed. Oh and also, they had prosthetic vulvas in these scenes. So, just know going in that the intention about how and where orgasms are depicted are within this context.
Depictions of Female Sexual Release
Obviously, there were several depictions and discussions of female sexual release in this movie and thus it must, I say must, be SSL reviewed. So now let me just get into it. And by the way, I liked the movie. I thought there were elements that were really fantastic, and I would definitely recommend it to people who like a long slow artsy foreign movie - I mean, I know it's not for everyone, but if it's your cup of meat, you should watch.
Sex Scene 1 - Doin' a Dude!
Adele is the youngest of the 2 main characters, and at the beginning of the movie, she hasn't made her way to the lady train just yet, and is somewhat reluctantly experimenting a bit with the dude express. So we happen to see her first (and only in the course of her life during the movie) sexual intercourse with a guy. It's probably meant to show that sex with this guy didn't excite her the way we will see it does later with Emma, but I think her reaction to the intercourse was so very normal for how we see women react to sex in movies that I wasn't completely sure how to read it. I honestly cannot be sure of the director's intention. Here's the deets.
It cuts to the couple. He's naked, and she is too, except for the panties she's pulling off. She gets on top cowgirl style and puts it in -the dick, that is ;), and then moves up and down on it breathing hard and urgent. She falls forward onto him, and continues writhing. In this forward, woman on top position she could easily be grinding her clit on him, and it could almost seems like she's orgasming with the way she's breathing and getting intense, but I can't be sure.
She then gets on her back and they continue the ol' intercourse. At this point we see her face looking towards the camera and she seems a little more bored even though her breathing seems like she's getting close to orgasm sometimes. In the end, after he seemingly orgasms and the sex stops, it seems pretty clear that it wasn't like the best thing in the world from the disinterested look we see on her face. I, coming from the starting point I do, would see this as a non-orgasmic experience for this gal. However, my obsessed-with-female-orgasm-misinformation perspective is not the norm, and I think it could be just as easy for someone to conclude that she did orgasm in this situation, but that the connection and intensity with her partner simply was not there, and that is why she seems disconnected when it's over (cause she's a lesbian, right?).
I mean, the default in life and in cinema is to assume intercourse is orgasmic for women (even though it is well known that it's not at all orgasmic for over 70% of women). So, it wouldn't surprise me to know that the director and actors just assumed that orgasm might happen. Luckily, though, if the director meant for this sexual experience to be seen as one in which she orgasmsed, then at least it seemed like she could have rubbed her clit against his body to make that happen. (Cause you know, every 17 year old orgasms their first time, since ya know, it's obvious that they should be stimulating their clit along with it, right?)
Second Sex Scene - First Time with a Lady!
This is a long ass scene. It's these two women buck naked on a bed with candles behind them for about 6 or 7 minutes, I think. Although you don't see any straight up pink of the puss or any actual insertion, it is quite graphic, and I will say that it looks like these women want to eat each other alive. There is passion, and it's certainly meant to give the viewer some realism. However, it is crazy to me how dry this scene is. There's no wetness on their hands or their thighs - and the shit that is happening in this scene would have pussy juice all over the damn place. Now maybe that's just a little too graphic for a major motion picture, but there is not even a sweat gleam on these women. It is insanely dry, and there is so much moany, breathy vocalizations. It looks and feels so much like soft core porn that it's hard to look past that sometimes. The author of the original book from which the movie was adapted wrote a really thoughtful blog post on the movie adaption. She is actually a lesbian and did mention that what these sex scenes missed was, well, lesbians. Check it out HERE (she is French, so there is a pdf of the post in English at the top of her blog). Okay - on to the details. I'm just going to describe the times that I assumed orgasms were being depicted.
Adele comes while laying on her stomach. Her hands are up by her face and her back is arched so her butt's up in the air. Emma is above her, facing down with her mouth between Adele's legs. The angle and position could not possible place Emma's mouth on the clit, more like the vaginal hole/perineum area, but it does seem like Emma's arms are wrapped around Adele's hips in a way that could allow Emma's hands to be manipulating Adele's clit. So I think that's a fine depiction, but then Adele seems to come more and harder as Emma's hands come up and are slapping Adele's ass cheeks, so there is simply no clit stim, given that her hips are up (no grinding on the bed), no hands are on it, and Emma's mouth is closer to the butthole than the clit. So this O is a mixed bag.
Emma gets her orgasm also on her stomach, with her hands down under her body in her vulva area while Adele is on top finger banging her. Emma comes, which is totally sensible given that Emma is obviously able to diddle her own clit.
Later there is another Adele orgasm again while on her stomach with her butt in the air. Emma is finger banging her kinda from behind and over the top of her butt. There was clearly no manual clit stimulation or clit grinding against something. This was an orgasm via finger bang. I'd be totally fine if the depiction here was of an ejaculation via finger bang, but squirting did not seem to be part of this, and her vocalizations were pretty much telling us there was an orgasm happening. So, I think this one was pretty unrealistic.
Sex Scene 2
This time they are scissoring and clits are surely being stimulated when they come, so that is realistic. However, I have to point out that it kinda sounds like they are constantly orgasming - which is kind of annoying, unrealistic and porny. My biggest beef with this scene, though, is the volume of their encounter. They were at Emma's parents' house while her parents were home, and they were being way the fuck too loud for that situation. At least there was clit stim, though, and I do like to say scissoring.
Sex Scene 3
In the next sex scene, Adele's on her back and her orgasm seems to be ending as Emma comes up from below. I think it's safe to say Emma was eating her out hard core, so some tongue on clit action is certainly a realistic way for ladygasms to happen, so that's a good depiction. This time they're at Adele's parents house. Luckily there is clearly a concerted effort to be quiet, so I appreciated that. However, they also fall asleep on top of the covers buck naked and entangled. I mean really, are you gonna take the risk that maman comes in to do something early in the morning. Maybe French teenagers have locks on the door, but I never did, so that just seems risky as hell.
This is at a party for Emma's college graduation later in the movie. People are eating and talking at a table. The guy speaking is not a main character, just really some art friend of Emma's. We'll call him French Art Dude. *all these were taken from subtitles of a, let's say, early copy of the movie, and I don'r speak French
French Art Dude: ...between the sexes, a quality of pleasure so different that we attain different realities. Over and above orgasm.
Emma: I'm curious. Why do you think that?
French Art Dude: Because...
Emma: We make faces? (laughs)
French Art Lady 1: We make more noise? (laughs)
French Art Dude: A big difference! Each time I slept with a woman I noticed something that's not...
French Art Lady 2: She enters another world?
French Art Dude: That's it.
French Art Lady 1: Orgasm is an outer body experience
French Art Dude: Our orgasm is limited.
Emma: For you, female orgasm is mystical.
French Art Dude: I'm totally sure of it. In so far as I'm a man, everything I glimpse is frustrated by the limits of male sexuality. Even though I've done it with men and women, when I recall the story of Tiresias who was lucky to be a man, then a woman, then a man again....when he was asked who gets more pleasure, man or women, he answers categorically, women get nine times more pleasure than men. Ever since women have been shown in paintings, their ecstasy is shown more than men's whose is shown via women. We see women bathing, we see The Origin of the World. Men try desperately to depict it - meaning they saw it.
French Art Lady 1: or imagined it or wished for it. It could be their fantasy, so it's based in...
French Art Dude: Look in their eyes. That gaze into another world. Art by women never tackles female pleasure..........(time passes and viewers, at least non French speaking ones, don't really hear what's said in between)...You see Emma, your paintings of Adele seem to illustrate this. I know I'll never experience that because I'll always be a man.
So, this is just me being me and speculating here, but I feel like French Art Dude's words are straight from the director's mind. I could be way off base, but I think the director seems obsessed with the overflowing sensuality of femaleness - which is totally gross to me. It makes me want to throw up in my mouth when people (men and women both do this) start talking about the mystery and inconceivable nature of female pleasure and sensuality. It might seem like it's some kind of compliment to the fairer sex, but all I can see is the reality of the female sexual experience being ignored for a much easier and surface gesture of putting ladies on pedestals.
Plus, there's that whole complete dichotomy in our culture between women being seen as somehow advanced sexual being and also clearly being seen as the gender with lower sexual drive. Plussss, I'm not one for mysticism and spiritual gobblity gook. It's way not my cup of tea. And why, French Art Dude, is it okay to base your argument about female pleasure on a fictional character from Greek mythology who was both fictionally male and fictionally female. It's just dumb, but it's not an uncommon type of argument to hear. Can we all just stop the bullshit and acknowledge women are not more complex in our innate sexuality than men? We're all a little complex, sure, but we all have junk that gets aroused, and we all can orgasm when you stroke our clit/penis right. It's not that big of a deal, except that the way our culture talks about, depicts, teaches, and experiences sex, sets up a situation where it's totally easy for a man to come and totally not easy for a woman to come. If we acknowledge that, then probably lady-sexuality won't be both so mysteriously awesome but so lesser at the same time...and we can stop using fictional Greek mythology character to try and describe it.
Anyway, I digress. I like that the scene has some ladies at the table being voices of reason, but like I said, my gut tells me that the director wants to get the dude's point across, and it's a little irritating to me.
SSL Review Conclusion
So, there is a lot here to SSL review. Yes there are times when, as is so common in movies, women orgasm while no clitoral stimulation is happening. (Imagine if most depictions of male orgasm happened without anything touching of the penis at all - that would be insane, right?). There are also times when the women tend towards moany-breathy-porn-style-perma-gasms. But there is also clear moments where the orgasms are happening due to realistic sexual actions - which is fairly rare in cinema. On the other hand, I thought the table conversation tended too much towards placing female orgasm into the realm of mysticism, which is terribly counter productive to achieving orgasm equality in our society. We must have a fact based understanding of female orgasm before we can ever really incorporate it into our media, education, and sex lives. Blue is the Warmest Color ends up being a mixed bag when it comes to how accurate and progressive its depictions and discussion of female sexual release are, so I'm going to give this movie 3 vulvas.