Abdellatif Kechiche on directing ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’

French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche made the Palmde d'Or-winning "Blue is the Warmest Color." Credit: Getty Images
French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche made the Palmde d’Or-winning “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
Credit: Getty Images

A lot has happened since Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue is the Warmest Color” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The epic relationship drama won the Palme d’Or, but in it’s wake its two actresses — Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, who play lovers whose relationship is viewed in full — have spoken out about the difficulties making the film, about being pushed. Seydoux has even separated herself from Kechiche, saying she’ll never work with him again. Since this interview, Kechiche has even written an op-ed, slamming Seydoux and others he felt were trying to destroy his film. In person, though, he’s calm, delivering his answers slowly, politely and with great care.

What drew you to make a film that looked at a couple that was homosexual?

I was hoping we would be able to get beyond the fact that it was two women. And while I was shooting the movie and creating the movie, as it went along, I forgot I was dealing with two women.

It’s the rare portrait of a couple that shows them moving from falling in love to falling out of it.

Part of what I wanted to work with is [a relationship] that starts off with a strong carnal passion and with time cools down. But I think that’s something that happens with everybody. It’s not easy to accept. I think for two people to continue to have a relationship that resonates, you have to find and have other reasons that keep you together. I think when there’s a breakup, it’s because one of them wasn’t able to transcend the physical relationship and go further. Here, I think it’s the different social milieus that come to the fore that ultimately cause the breakup. They couldn’t find a common ground. Their aspirations were different.

You shot for five months. How much of the story wound up on the floor?

There were a lot of scenes I didn’t put in the movie, either because I wasn’t satisfied in terms of the direction or in terms of the acting, or because I didn’t find them useful in terms of moving the story forward. It’s also because I had to make some choices, because three hours is starting to be a lot.

Will there be a longer cut?

Yes. With about 40 minutes more.

As you were writing the script, how much did you leave open for you to find it as you shot?

I sometimes write on the fly, but the screenplay already has all the different possibilities structured into it. There’s some things I don’t want to completely set in stone in the screenplay, that I want to see develop as the shooting evolves.

How did you work with your actors to get them deeply ingrained in their characters?

I like to try things and push them to extremes. Sometimes with the interpretation of the role, there’s a resistance. Sometimes time just breaks that down.

The stereotype of Europe versus America is that we’re very repressed as Europe is very open-minded. Homosexuality is a particularly controversial issue.

I don’t agree. I think it’s the opposite. It’s much more open here, from what I’ve witnessed. [His interpreter: “He hasn’t been to Podunk, Iowa yet.”] It’s confirmed by what’s been happening in France these last few months. I never imagined there was such a taboo that was still there. I don’t think we have a lot to teach others, we have a lot of lessons to get from others. I heard a lot about American Puritanism. But I feel it’s better here. For example, Steven Spielberg — I had been warned that he would probably be shocked by the film. And when I spoke with him I was surprised that he told me how much he loved the film and he couldn’t wait to show it to his daughters — that he felt it was an initiation to love that was beautiful.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Going Out

Tickets on sale for Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival…

It may be hard to believe but spring weather is finally just about here, which in Philly means festivals every weekend — including the annual…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.