While Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color received controversial press for its stark portrayal of sexuality, the film’s only real problem is in its self-indulgence. Choked with scenes of endless dancing, staring into space and, yes, sex, the film needs an editor; at over an hour too long, the film’s essential moments and images are lost in the ego of the author. Of course Kechiche is not alone in his onanism; many an excellent director has fallen victim to believing that everything shot is sacred, including Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomanic, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Michael Cimino’s infamous Heaven’s Gate. This is to say nothing of the glut of Hollywood monstrosities such as Titanic, The Lord of the Rings and all of the superheroes piled atop each other.It’s the simpler things that ring true, such as a director listening to his inner voice: “Cut!”
Excess is best. Or at least excess is great while it lasts. So is the message of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006).While Coppola’s film does attempt to present the Queen of France’s point of view, placing her debauchery in the context of her heritage and youth, the film depends almost solely on a litany of gluttonous imagery. Scorsese makes no such effort, starting and ending with scenes meant to shock – dwarf tossing through orgies to drugs on top of drugs – that becomes tedious and, rather than offer a point to reflect, childishly glorify the experience. There might be a moral buried somewhere in these films – after all our heroes meet bad ends – but that isn’t the theme of either. Instead we are made witness to tributes to consumption, all of it beyond our wildest dreams – palaces and helicopters – and how marvelous that really is. It is an interesting comparison of time periods – the French Revolution and Wall Street America – exposing two societies which hid behind claims of freedom, knowledge and tolerance to maintain the excesses of the few who continued to grind the species towards extinction.