Writer’s note: It feels like I’ve been writing this so called review, I don’t even know if I should say review, probably not, for months. I will divide this in chapters.
La Vie D’Adèle Chapitres 1&2, the film
Will I finally talk about the film? Like the question, is it a good film?
This is a pure coming of age tale of a young girl named Adèle, since her high school days and into her early adulthood. It’s about discover, about desire, it’s about passion and it’s about love and pain, actually, lots of pain and snot. If I would divide these adjectives, in the same order, then desire is 20%, the same for passion, 10% love and 50% pain, in a three hour length film.
The film becomes so transparent as it goes, to the point it becomes unusually tricky and extraordinary. It’s raw, it’s undeniably real at times. And yet I kept having a feeling in my gut of something missing. Like something palpable, maybe actual points of conflict. Like I felt I needed more Emma. Even though I think Emma is as authentic and true as she can be, even though Léa Seydoux’s extraordinary portrait, I wanted an actual building story beyond her.
There’s a moment in the film when I feel like it jumps to a world of its own. I mention this not so relevant fact in consideration for the comic book. Adèle and Emma are in the park, they have their first kiss and from this jump on (jumping into bed), you can’t connect any dots anymore. I don’t think the comic book was a strong factor in my viewing, but I have to confess I would have felt emptier, if I didn’t had read the book. Maybe in three hours, given that this is a love story, they should have explored more of Emma’s life, not just her snob family to contrast with Adèle’s, these wealthy-humble, artsy-practical opposites. I wanted to witness more of her passionate side. Maybe it would have been nice to see her struggle in consideration with her former lover, and through these events, through the choices she would do, through the way she would deal with them, maybe I could have seen more of her, I could have appreciated her more.
La Vie D’Adèle Chapitres 1&2, the troubling obstructions
One of the outer aspects that were revealing to me as the time passed is that this is a man’s film. I’m afraid to say that it looks tastes and sounds manly. Now the aspects of this notion are a whole line to explore with the perhaps good, the bad and the ugly. In these lines, what also comes to mind is how now thinking about the staggering buzz and the critic’s reception makes sense and how obvious it’s a male centric universe. La Vie D’Adèle is to me the unwanted proof.
I’m not entirely saying it’s all about cock block, the continuing obstruction from cock to mind. I believe not every (mostly straight men) like this film. I’m rather saying that in this realm of film perception and perspective that there’s a tendency. Whether homo or hetero, because that’s pretty hard to intersect and then divide, there’s a tendency for a more positive review from a male than a female, I think it goes way beyond the cock block issue, I think it’s actually rather easier for a guy to watch it (besides being a man’s film), a woman should have more trouble. Like if you go to rottentomatoes, for example, there are like ten reviews, nine of them are mostly positive and are male, the other one is the only negative and it’s from a woman, therefore, the tendency. Tendencies usually say something.
La Vie D’Adèle Chapitres 1&2, the male gaze
Abdellatif Kechiche is a gazer, I call it. Anyone can actually call this one out.
“So we’re all”, one can argue. Yes, we can argue that we are all mostly gazers. How many times do we watch a film just because of the performer? But why not call it anyway? Why La Vie D’Adele has to be different? It is because it’s a so called art film (which I’m conflicted about this, by the way)? I don’t want to treat this film like it’s special, to this regard. It is an accurate case of pure male gaze. And I don’t accept bullshit excuses. Just because it won the Palme D’Or, I still have the right to call it. I think women in general shouldn’t be afraid to admit it, it’s unfortunate that they do.
When you hear Adèle describing the director’s notes such as “Mange, Adele, Mange!!!”, and the way she’s gesturing her hands in her mouth, there’s definitely something going on most likely out of the expected. The fact that I wasn’t stunned or shocked or surprised or amused or that compelled and so on about the infamous sex scenes was it because I was expecting it and that it’s really not that out of the blue for a French film? It is because I’m a young girl, a female? I’m not talking about authenticity, accuracy, realism or talking from experience, but simply by watching these scenes I am sure about one thing…or two – it felt excessive and they didn’t seemed like they were “feeling it”. Oh what am I saying, they are shocking at first and then mostly embarrassing.
One can argue that there’s a lot of pointless and not poignant sex in other films, mostly heterosexual, but the crucial aspect is that people aren’t really paying attention to it, they will mostly take it for granted whereas La Vie D’Adèle exhales a different perception. The thing is that this film can evoke a realistic impression, because of its style and the passionate and outstanding true performances by Adèle and Léa. But is it wrong, it is dangerous? I don’t know.
I kept thinking and hoping this film would evoke a discussion and more importantly open a door to free more stories about women and love between women. But this is my naïve side. The negative side is that it will more likely open a door to the closeted male perverts and give them a push, perhaps. I know a film doesn’t owe us anything nor is about changing anything. I also know once a film comes out it takes off to endless perceptions.
La Vie D’Adèle Chapitres 1&2, Adèle and Léa
If there are essays to be written about this film, love letters, even poems, they should all be about these two brave young women. Adèle and Léa. They’re pretty much the film, they made it possible and they made it happen. They were the sacrifice to this male dominant world! How’s this for drama?
It’s hard for me to think of other examples of this kind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this, the intensity, the closeness and intimacy between them. From the moment they cross eyes in the street, their intensity grows and grows and it’s like it’s constantly about to burst.
When Adèle looks to the other side of the street and sees that girl with blue hair, your heart starts jumping with hers, at least mine does, she’s breathless and disoriented. I am absolutely breathless at the end of this scene. It’s examples like this one that keep growing throughout the film. It is ever so real. It’s as raw as you can feel. And it is an extraordinary thing to witness. The words courage and bravery never been so underrated.
If you think of the break up scene, no one can get away from it, everyone will mention it because it is one of those overwhelming moments of cinema, it leaves you completely stunned. It is one of my favorite scenes as it will be of many others. But it hurts to think what they went through – it’s ever so raw and real because it was real. I am talking about intensity, but there are moments you can also feel their disorientation, the translation of Abdellatif’s weak direction. Like when they’re in the parade. But I still think it’s only fair to say they’re the film.
La Vie D’Adèle is a simple story, maybe it is a little pretentious from the point of view of what the director is trying to achieve. No matter how much the actors went through, I mean it does matter a lot, but despite the making of this film and it’s style, for better and for worse, La Vie D’Adèle becomes an outstanding film and will definitely brought out something in you, whether it’s rage of something else. Either way, it will most likely break your heart. It is simply too raw, therefore a rarity to witness. But let’s take it easy, all this doesn’t mean it’s a good film. Because I don’t think it is. I still search for something is not quite there. I feel insatiable when it comes to this film. I hope I can figure this out through the second view, which will be quite painful to sit through, but much needed.
I still don’t really know what to say about Abdellatif’s legitimacy to deliver a love story between women. Brokeback Mountain was written and directed by straight men and a woman. Who am I to say that a man shouldn’t be given the legitimacy to portrait a story of love between women? One is allowed to do anything he pleases. But I can say that through my eyes this is a men’s film. But guess what? It is not the end of the world. The thing is that we have all a great opportunity to bring our stories of love between women to the screen; it is not a lost case. I am here waiting for them, I’m not going anywhere.
Back in May, hearing people saying out loud in the news and other media, “A love story between women”, it felt so good that I gave it too much value. And as the time passed, all I saw was Blue. I think one of the things I learned with this film is that I shouldn’t get so attached to its meaning. It was like I was in a relationship of some kind as I talked about this film in such terms. I need to remember that there’s a life beyond films, when most of the times I don’t.