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Is all buzz good buzz? Sundance Selects hopes so, as their French-language pickup Blue Is the Warmest Color heads to the 2013 Toronto Film Festival amid a wave of controversy.
From the film’s first screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, director Abdellatif Kechiche‘s three-hour Palme d’Or winner was met with shock and awe, thanks in part to a lengthy sex scene between stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos. With Blue now hitting the North American festival circuit, the extended moment of intimacy — which earned the film an NC-17 rating from the MPAA — has become a predictable focal point that has pit director against cast.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Seydoux, 28, and Exarchopoulos, 19, suggested that they would never work with Kechiche again. While Seydoux admits that the French process is all about giving oneself over to a director, the duo’s descriptions of Kechiche’s helming style come off as particularly brutal. “He warned us that we had to trust him — blind trust — and give a lot of ourselves,” Exarchopoulos said, adding, “He was making a movie about passion, so he wanted to have sex scenes, but without choreography — more like special sex scenes.”
The comments arrive at the beginning of Blue‘s press tour, which have already produced some awkward moments for the trio. Speaking at a Los Angeles press conference for the film on Thursday, Kechiche responded defensively to a question about the Daily Beast interview.
“How indecent to talk about pain when doing one of the best jobs in the world!” the 52-year-old French-Tunisian filmmaker told reporters in his native tongue. “The orderlies suffer, the unemployed suffer, construction workers could talk about suffering. How, when you are adored, when you go up on a red carpet, when we receive awards, how we can speak of suffering?” Kechiche went on to explain that the allegedly grueling shoot was to accommodate Seydoux, who needed the extra time to better inhabit the role.
After-the-fact pot-stirring may be a product of festival audiences’ fascination with the explicit film. Along with its frank examination of sex, glowing reviews from Cannes praise both Seydoux and Exarchopoulos‘ performances as among the best of the year. Both actresses now appear to be scrambling to undo whatever misconstrued comments are being sucked up into the media maelstrom: At the same L.A. press conference, Seydoux — reportedly in tears — told the press, “I have given a year of my life to this film. I had no life during this shoot. I gave everything. I have not criticized 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.”
Sundance Selects will release Blue Is the Warmest Color on Oct. 25.
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