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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.17.13] France drama



Now that Cannes winner Blue is the Warmest color has landed on the North American festival circuit and more than a handful of people have seen it, the chatter around the watercooler has risen to deafening proportions. It's impossible to believe that Abdellatif Kechiche's movie could ever live up to the expectation but against all odds, Blue not only matches but exceeds them.

It would be easy to assume, based on the title and the key art, that Blue focuses on Emma (Léa Seydoux in blue hair) but instead, this is the story of Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and her first foray into true love. As a teenager exploring her sexuality, she takes a stroll from a gay bar she's attending with her best friend, to a nearby lesbian bar where she meets Emma. Sparks fly and the beginnings of a long lasting relationship are formed. Friendship turns to romance, the pair meet each other's parents and when the time is right, they move in together.


We don't see the women again until years later. Adele is an elementary school teacher while Emma's career as an artist is beginning to take off. Love is still very much a part of their lives but the passion the pair shared in the early days of their relationship has been replaced by complacency and comfort. Adele, feeling left out of Emma's life as she prepares for her first big opening, has a fling with a co-worker, is discovered, left by Emma and is forced to come to terms with the end of her first serious relationship.

Blue is the Warmest Color doesn't re-invent the wheel. It doesn't display some deep new emotion that we didn't know existed. What Kechiche's movie does do, and very well, is capture the realities of love and relationships better than most of the others that have attempted a similar feat. There are huge highs and heart breaking lows as we follow Adele through the birth, life and death of love and though Adele is depressed and heartbroken at the end of her relationship with Emma, Blue ends on the possibility of new love.

Seydoux has emerged as a huge talent in the years since her leading performance in Dear Prudence (review) but the revelation here is Exarchopoulos whose performance is revelatory. The changes in the character are marked on her face and physique, from young and impressionable teen ready to tackle the world to a heartbroken woman who simply wants to suffer her loss alone. More than that, her largely wordless performance is astounding, the emotions running through her face and eyes in each scene drawing the audience further into the story. It makes the film particularly personal, as if watching a close friend going through the emotions rather than a character in a movie.

Much has been made about Blue's sex scenes which have been discussed at great length since the film's Cannes debut. Truth be told, they're not particularly graphic (no more so than some of the scenes in Eyes Wide Shut) but they are extended and feel far more intimate because we we know these characters so intimately that they feel like people we know. The scenes are tastefully captured and full of passion but also far too long and uncomfortable to watch in a room full of strangers and it doesn't help that I felt like I was peeping my friend having sex but more than that, the scenes took me out of the story and at times I found myself looking around the theatre wondering when the movie would get going again.

It may be long and at times uncomfortable to watch but Blue is the Warmest Color is also the most beautiful romance I've seen captured on film (or digital as is the case here). It's not all sunshine and rainbows but that's also what makes it so special. It's a beautiful story of two people who fall in love and then out of love and the emotional fallout associated with that. It captures the good and bad of relationships and through all the pain and crying of the last forty minutes, Blue ends on a hopeful note. Adele may not see it yet but there's a shot at happiness around the next corner.

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Fireman (7 years ago) Reply

"...but Blue is the Warmest Color is also the most beautiful romance I've seen captured on film "

Disagreed strongly on this one I saw the film twice and it's pretty much a generic lesbian teenage romance, but the rest of the movie was ok.


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