SACRE-"BLUE"!

Graphic Gay Sex Scandalizes (And Wins Over) Cannes Film Festival

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When it comes to explicit same-sex love scenes, the French Riviera has a Cannes-do attitude. A ménage-à-trois of critically-lauded films, including the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, stirred controversy and more than a few libidos over their graphic depictions of gay sex.

Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adele, Chapitres 1 et 2), hailed by The Guardian as “a landmark in cinematic depictions of lesbian love and female sexuality” and containing “the lengthiest, most intimate and most graphic lesbian sex scenes in mainstream cinema history,” is also a frontrunner for the festival’s top prize, the Palme D’Or.

Based on the award-winning Gallic graphic novel by Julie Maroh, and with a three-hour running time, Blue stars newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos in a breakout performance as a young girl who comes of age with the help of a blue-haired art school student played by Lea Seydoux. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film by director Abdellatif Kechiche is more than just “show-stopping scenes of non-simulated female copulation,” but a “virtuously acted and directed” meditation on “issues of gender and sexual identity to questions of social belonging.”

Though France recently legalized same-sex marriage, the Tunisian-born Kechiche didn’t intend the film as political commentary. “I didn’t want to make a militant film that had a message to deliver about homosexuality,” he told The Guardian,”but of course it can be seen from that angle, and that doesn’t bother me.”

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Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger at the Lake stars Pierre Deladonchamps as a young man who finds himself attracted to a man who might be a killer, played by Christophe Paou. The story takes place at a “secluded beachfront beside a beautiful lake, which is occupied by a handful of men swimming, sunbathing in the buff, and then disappearing into the adjacent forest to engage in anonymous hookups and humping.”

Variety noted that “though it contains explicit scenes of gay sex, this is essentially an absorbing and intelligent exploration of queer desire.” THR wondered whether the psychological thriller’s “tricky subject matter and numerous sex scenes — some downright hardcore” would make it a tough sell, but the film’s North American rights were recently picked up by the Los Angeles-based Strand Releasing.

While we wait with bated breath for both films to come all over America, Behind the Candelabra premieres this Sunday. Starring Michael Douglas as the over-the-top pianist and Matt Damon as his scorned boytoy Scott Thorson, the biopic has gotten its fair share of rave reviews, particularly for Douglas. It also has its fair share of man-loving — so much, in fact, that director Steven Soderbergh had trouble getting it made. HBO eventually picked it up after “everybody in town” turned it down for being “too gay.”

Huh, that sounds like it’s going to become a selling point.