QUEER VOICES
05/24/2013 01:52 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

'Blue Is The Warmest Color,' Lesbian Film At Cannes With Explicit Sex, Draws Praise From Critics

The 66th Cannes Film Festival ends this weekend, but not before closing with some controversy, this time involving a lengthy lesbian sex scene.

"Blue is the Warmest Color" (or, its original French title, "La Vie D'Adele Chapitres 1 et 2"), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, tells the story of two girls who enter into in an all-consuming, life-changing relationship. The graphic sex scenes (including a ten-minute scene which Vulture said had "impressive scissoring") have kept festival goers gossiping since the screening earlier this week.

"Blue is the Warmest Color" is being called the best film at the festival by many. Popular film site,"The Playlist" said it is "the most transportative, truthful and sublime movie experience of our Cannes to date." And the film's performances are being praised as well, with Adèle Exarchopolous, who plays Adèle, being touted by some as the frontrunner to win the Cannes Best Actress award.

The film, based on the graphic novel by Julie Maroh, is also considered by many to be the front runner for the festival's most prestigious honor, the Palm d'Or, with critics such as "The Guardian" writing: "Praised for its tenderness and intensity, it has been hailed as a landmark in cinematic depictions of lesbian love and female sexuality." But "Blue is the Warmest Color" isn't the only film at the festival with graphic depictions of gay sex.

The Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" also made its debut at the festival and the film's explicit gay sex scenes between the legendary pianist, played by Michael Douglas, and his lover, played by Matt Damon, have not gone unnoticed by audiences. Though Douglas doesn't believe the gay sex is what scared studios away from backing the film ("Behind the Candelabra" debuts this upcoming Sunday, May 26 on HBO), it's hard to imagine "Blue is the Warmest Color" will receive the wide audience it deserves considering it is three hours long, graphically depicts gay sex and is in French. Strand Releasing, has picked up the distribution rights for the United States.

Another film at the festival, Alain Guiraudie’s "Stranger at the Lake," about a murder at a gay cruising ground in France, has been hailed by Variety as "essentially an absorbing and intelligent exploration of queer desire spiced up with thriller elements."

Between the recent legalization of gay marriage in France and the high profile gay films at Cannes, it seems that the country is having its moment in the gay spotlight. Whether the jury (helmed this year by Steven Spielberg) agrees with the critics and awards "Blue is the Warmest Color" the Palm d'Or remains to be seen but the buzz may have already earned the film a spot among the best lesbian films of all time.

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