Abdellatif Kechiche, the director of the Cannes hit, has expressed unhappiness about the impact of negative publicity on his own reputation and his film’s legacy
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The director of the Palme d’Or-winning erotic epic Blue is the Warmest Colour, Abdellatif Kechiche, has questioned whether the film’s release should be cancelled in the wake of a turbulent wave of controversies surrounding its making.
Kechiche told Telerama he had experienced but a “brief moment of happiness” when his movie, which is based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, triumphed in Cannes in May. Since then, the project has been mired in mixed publicity after stars Adèle Exarchopoulos, 19, and 28-year-old Léa Seydoux said they would never work with the Franco-Tunisian film-maker again after a “horrible” shoot during which he allegedly ranted and raved at them as he sought to achieve optimum realism for the acclaimed lesbian-themed romantic drama.
“I think this film should not go out; it was too sullied,” Kechiche told Telerama, adding that the allegations against him had left him feeling “humiliated, disgraced. I felt a rejection of me; I live like a curse”.
Exarchopoulos and Seydoux complained during an interview with the Daily Beast at the Toronto film festival that they had been put through a gruelling 10-day shoot for the 10-minute love scene at the centre of the film and were forced into a continuous one-hour take – during which the director refused to allow his stars to simulate blows – for a separate fight scene. Kechiche now believes his stars’ comments will make it impossible for audiences to view the offending scenes “with a clean heart and a watchful eye”. He said: “In advance, they will ask: ‘Did this man not harass the girls? Did they not cherish [the experience], too, and they do not dare say it?”
The comments, which were translated from the original French by the Hollywood Reporter, mark something of a turnaround for Kechiche, who earlier this month made an angry defence of his methods during Blue is the Warmest Colour’s press tour in Los Angeles. “How indecent to talk about pain when doing one of the best jobs in the world!” the 52-year-old was reported to have said. “The orderlies suffer, the unemployed suffer, construction workers could talk about suffering. How, when you are adored, when you go up on red carpet, when we receive awards, how we can speak of suffering?” Seydoux, on the same press tour, broke down in tears as she said: “I have given a year of my life to this film. I had no life during this shoot. I gave everything. I have not criticised the director. I’m just complaining about the technique. It was my dream to work with him because, in France, he is one of the best directors.”
Blue is the Warmest Colour was a huge critical hit at this year’s Cannes film festival, where it became the first example of a Palme d’Or being awarded to both the director and its two lead actors. In the wake of its the film was also criticised by Maroh, author of the award-winning 2010 graphic novel on which the film is based. She described Kechiche’s three-hour drama as “ridiculous” and branded it “porn”, also expressing disappointment at the absence of lesbian actors from the adaptation.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is due to open on 25 October in the US and 15 November in UK cinemas.
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