Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Loosely based on the prize-winning Gallic graphic novel by Julie Maroh, Blue Is the Warmest Color comes with a Palme d’Or under its belt, the first Palme d’Or awarded to both the director and the lead actresses. It also comes with highly publicized graphic sex-scenes. While the sex may prove to be a signature topic when discussing the film, Blue Is the Warmest Color is so much more. It is a beautifully made look at one girl’s relationship with love that manages to wriggle its way into your heart, warming and breaking it with a powerfully acted three-hour slice of life.
We follow ten-years in the life of Adéle, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos. We begin with her time in high-school, as she dates Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte). She doesn’t quite feel the comfort and love that she wants, unable to forget the fleeting glance she exchanged with Emma (Léa Seydoux) while crossing a street. Eventually, Adéle and Emma begin a relationship that will have its fair share of ups and downs, bringing Adéle as much heartbreak as happiness.
While Adéle struggles to find comfort in her sexuality, her life unfolds with a dependence and yearning for her heart’s other half. While not being obvious, the film beautifully moves between time periods. After her high-school years, in which Adéle confronts her sexual yearnings, we move to her life years later, living with Emma in a fragile state of domestic peace.
Blue Is the Warmest Color covers a hell of a lot in its three-hour running time. While that running time does make for a long film, the film feels anything but. Full of ruminations, from philosophy to social ideologies, the film presents many themes for the audience to think about. There’s even food for thought on offer regarding the division between genders and the importance sexual activity has on relationships. Then again, some may disagree. The film plays out simply and straightforwardly, allowing the audience to interpret scenes and character’s actions in a variety of ways.
Moments are played out in long scenes. There’s a refreshing, unhurried pace to the film that allows you “live” with Adéle; to experience her love and to feel her sadness. Writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain) directs the film with simplistic confidence, allowing his camera to linger on the emotive faces of these two talented actresses.
The ultimate compliment to the film’s dramatic power comes with the outstanding performances by Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. Arguably some of the best performances of the entire year, the two girls bring a stirring sense of realism to their roles. Exarchopoulous is truly incredible. She carries the film with a character that is frustrating and needy, but also complex and beautiful. Most importantly: she feels real.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find more graphic girl-on-girl sex scenes in other non-pornographic films, but these moments are delivered in a non-gratuitous manner. Like many relationships, sex is an important factor that solidifies the bond between two people. Adéle and Emma have an active sexual relationship that the film doesn’t shy away from, but also doesn’t exploit.
Blue Is the Warmest Color may be a love story dealing primarily with a lesbian relationship, but it ultimately works as a powerful film about love itself. The yearning we have for that special someone can be as hurtful and destructive as it can be beautiful and sweet. The film doesn’t have any easy answers on offer. It is a memorable and powerful look at a period of time in one woman’s life, and the love that brought and took so much.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10