I wrote “love” up there primarily because of how WordPress renders links to post and I know that some workplaces have filters on URLs that contain the word “sex” in them, and this isn’t a pornographic post.
This post contains no spoilers unless you were somehow not aware of the fact that the two young women have sex in the movie. If you weren’t aware of that, you probably didn’t see the rating and probably know nothing about the movie. Feel free to skip over this post if the movie has no interest to you.
I think this quote is the most telling:
“What I was trying to do when we were shooting these scenes was to film what I found beautiful. So we shot them like paintings, like sculptures. We spent a lot of time lighting them to ensure they would look beautiful; after, the innate choreography of the loving bodies took care of the rest, very naturally. They had to be made aesthetically beautiful while keeping the sexual dimension. We tried many different things; we worked hard. We talked a lot but in the end discussions led nowhere. You talk a lot on set but ultimately what you say doesn’t matter that much because it’s so intellectualized, whereas reality is more intuitive.” —
Director Abdellatif Kechiche
I agree that that is what he did. They were largely stationary (compared to the heterosexual love scene where there was more movement re-positioning), and they showed as much as they could. And it sums up the problem I found with the love scenes.
They were a display. A physical display of (sometimes questionable) technique. The fact that they were to be viewed overshadowed any emotion from them and destroyed that part of the film. When I saw them I wasn’t able to vicariously feel any of the lust they supposedly had for each other.
In some ways they were reminiscent of the stereotype of two girls making out at a frat party. If you don’t know anything about lesbians, you may think “hey, two queer chicks found each other, that’s great” but upon further examination you notice that they are aware guys are watching and you may think “well, maybe they’re both bi?” and then it hits you that it’s entirely a sexual show for the guys. Sure they may be kissing and groping each other, but it is only to be seen doing so, not for each other. That was how the sex scenes felt to me. And that’s why I found them more off-putting and probably much less erotic than the director intended. The author of the work said as much when she said that the scenes were “pornographic”– it wasn’t a comment on what you could see, it was a comment on what was missing.