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Sheffield, and not liking Blue is the Warmest Colour

January 11, 2014

The view from my garret

For the past few weeks I’ve been living in the attic of my friends, Amy and Tom’s house in Sheffield. Yes, I’ve finally achieved the writer’s dream of living in a drafty garret, though it’s not that drafty I have to admit.

Years ago, I studied at the university here and so it’s strange coming back.  Every street name, pub, cashpoint, cafe, Supertram stop I pass invokes a memory of my former life here – that house where old friends used to live, that chip shop where they told us ‘fuck off we’ve got nowt left’ when we sought nourishment after a night frequenting that public house which still smells the same, and the like.  I’m thinking of creating a comprehensive walking tour of scenes from my former life, I think Tracy Emin did something similar once?  And of course, now all the students look so young. I walked past one of old haunts on West Street and for a moment was outraged that there were children drinking and smoking outside, but then I realised, no it’s just me that’s old.  But Sheffield has a certain charm, a whimsicality that the cities in my native north west, laden with their histories, don’t have, maybe because the city centre was pretty much razed in the war.  I am missing that reality of London I can’t afford though.

In other news, I felt uncomfortably but reassuring British when I went to see Blue is the Warmest Colour yesterday. Really, how can (mostly male) critics laud a film with such sloppy editing, notably, during the notorious sex scenes?  I wondered if it was meant to be funny after the tenth comedically-loud slapping flesh sound.

I just kept thinking throughout the whole thing, ‘if this was a British film’… Yes, if this was British film, the class differences would have been markedly more exaggerated, there’d have been none of that clichéd talking about John Paul Satre, the kids would have got really smashed at Adele’s 18th, and, of course, the sex scenes would have been much less gratuitous as we’re a bit more reserved about that kind of thing here. In my exceedingly humble opinion, these things  would have made it a better film.  After the stories emerged of the actresses being subjected to a gruelling ten days of shooting for those sex scenes, it felt horribly voyeuristic watching it. I know part of the cinematic experience is voyeuristic but this was rather unpleasant and it tainted the rest of the film for me. A bit like the story the kids read later on in the film, there was ‘no need’.  I wish Mike Leigh had directed it and it had been set in Hull or somewhere.

I can’t argue with the universal acclaim the two actresses have been given though, it must have taken a hell of lot to play those roles and to play them so convincingly shows dazzling talent.  But if the even more critically acclaimed 12 Years A Slave fails to live up to expectations I am never trusting another film critic ever again.

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