Abdellatif Kechiche, the director of Blue Is the Warmest Color, is having a bad day, and he has a bit of something to say about it. Really, just a bit. I mean, just, you know, a 5000-word, unhinged column that he contributed to a French site called Rue 89, about how everyone trying to destroy him is right. Since the entire thing’s in French, we decided to translate some of its nuttier parts. There’s nothing more fun than someone answering charges of being mercurial and difficult by embodying rage in print.
Today, whether by chance or destiny, I have the honor of “representing French cinema” everywhere in the world: its values, its creative freedom, its emancipatory tradition, on top of the story onscreen. In some countries, for their reasons, because of their values, the film could not have been distributed. In France, where I am happy to report through my films, the young today hope for the freedom to love and to live, for art and modernity, La vie d’Adèle is the prey of a form of censorship made more pernicious because it does not speak its name.
Note that no one has, to date, actually moved to ban his film in France in any way. What they have been doing is criticizing it, and to an extent Kechiche himself, who seems to be quite a difficult man to work with generally. Some poor public relations person has probably tried to point out to him that you can end up proving your critics’ points by raging in the press, but that doesn’t stop Kechiche. He sent some kind of letter to the French minister of culture — in France people actually think of the government as important in cultural matters — and then he kicked up a fuss. Several people began speaking to the press about how difficult he was. Kechiche calls that criticism akin to… well, I’ll let him say it:
… I was confronted with a series of articles in Le Monde that made a number of slanderous allegations. All of them took me as a target, at the worst possible moment for me and my film. It was an incomprehensible situation, a veritable press campaign against me, and one so violent that I can today say with certainty, and film professionals know I am right, that if my film had not been rewarded at Cannes, I would today be a destroyed director — as they say, a dead man.
Kechiche goes on to complain that Léa Seydoux must have joined the conspiracy to bring him down. He’s referring to an interview she gave to the Daily Beast with Adèle Exarchopoulos in which Seydoux did say she’d never work with Kechiche again, because he was meticulous and perhaps yelled a lot. But she did note that she thought the film was good, and called him a “genius.” Evidently, that did not soften the blow:
I know, or in any case cannot exclude the possibility, [ed: a remarkable segue] that certain of her close friends and intimates, more used to these kinds of proceedings and certain of whom are openly hostile to me, suggested to her that she could create a new controversy, in her apparent interest, but most of all in theirs. And because young Léa is full of opportunism and she is the (auto)-proclaimed star of the moment and she feels she belongs to a caste of untouchables and thus makes her like a princess who senses the small pea, she does not feel compelled to explain. Because she’s the star. Not the film. Not even Adèle.
So she lets her mother speak in her defense or declares anew, with the arrogance of a spoiled child, that she has “said what she was going to say,” so that no one goes back to it, even though the harm has been done. Actually, no! That wasn’t enough. She has something to account for and I’m going to bring it up again, myself. She has to explain herself to justice, because she’s of age and therefore responsible for her own acts.
I assume he means justice in the abstract sense. I hope he means justice in the abstract sense. But the way he wraps the whole things up, I’m not quite sure:
[This controversy] is simply a reflection of many others in a growing malaise, known only by professionals and specialists, and a perversion of the blood of a system that calls for global reflection, accompanied by a strong political will for change.
I sure hope someone intervenes and hands this man a glass of wine, a chocolate bar, or whatever it is he needs to do to relax. His film is being discussed everywhere! In America, even, where three-quarters of the population will not so much as set foot in a cineplex that’s actually playing it! You can’t buy publicity like this. And anyway: who would want to?