Assuming that Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Blue is the Warmest Color” (“La Vie d’Adele”) gets an audience in America without an NC-17 rating, it might finally bring French actress and model Léa Seydoux to better prominence in America. Those who only know her from her brief American film roles remember her in “Inglourious Basterds”, “Midnight in Paris” (the owner of the nostalgia shop), or “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” She was memorable in all, though she’s now done the role that will inevitably catch attention: Playing a blue-haired lesbian.
No, this isn’t a blue hair in the sense of an older person driving below steering wheel level. We’re talking college age here, and striking up a relationship with a 17-year-old girl (co-star Adèle Exarchopoulos). It’s a controversial set-up that’s typically French in its attempted intellectualism, and one that might turn cheeks in America.
Or will it be a building block for the lesbian drama in America? Despite the homosexual tale already near mainstream in the movies, stories of lesbians have yet to be widely accepted in the U.S. That’s because so many of them feel like they have to be overtly graphic to make any statement as “Blue” reportedly does. That doesn’t mean that some films won’t soon be here to possibly play down the sex in favor of showing more passion in a lesbian affair.
Those paying attention at the Cannes Film Festival learned that the future lesbian drama “Carol” will be distributed by Harvey Weinstein and directed by Todd Haynes. Aforementioned upcoming film is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel written over 60 years ago and treated lesbianism as something much more complicated. Nevertheless, it did contain physical intimacy that could theoretically be graphic between stars Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska.
While that might disturb some in seeing a 20-something woman having sex with a female twice her age, it seems unlikely it’ll be quite as graphic as “Blue” based on the reputations of the above two actresses. Blanchett and Wasikowska don’t need an acting reinvention like Seydoux had to have in order to become an American household name.
Ultimately, “Blue is the Warmest Color” could end up hurting the lesbian drama here in the states based on its graphic nature. “Carol” taking place in the 1950s may turn out to be a brilliant idea to show a sense of repression rather than a freewheeling love affair. Some people might argue that without a sense of repression, there really can’t be much of a plot in a lesbian drama.
That doesn’t necessarily mean “Blue” avoids playing up different elements to lesbian issues. Most of that is in the class system and in establishing the importance of a relationship beyond the bed. But those same issues are also going to be more or less addressed in “Carol.”
For those wondering what happens next with the lesbian drama, it ultimately comes down to marketability rather than shock value. Nobody should expect a Palme d’Or winner to be a sensation in America. Even the brilliant and emotional “Amour” last year didn’t get the audience it deserved.
Because of the continuing divide over gay issues in America, expect “Carol” to perhaps tread lightly with stars everybody recognizes. In that regard, it may play up considerable quotable lines as a female and cosmopolitan equivalent to “Brokeback Mountain.”