Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos star in Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’, winner of the 2013 Palme d’Or.
‘Blue is the Warmest Colour‘ has been described as the first great love story of the 21st century. But don’t let that mislead you. This is a story about love, but it’s also about society, acceptance, sexuality and soul. It focuses on the relationship between two women and the epic sex scenes have surrounded the movie with hype and controversy: There is over 10 minutes of explicit sex on screen, filmed over 10 days, but there’s also a lot more to Blue.
The film focuses on the relationship of 15 year old Adèle (Exarchopoulos) with the older, more experienced Emma (Seydoux). The film charts their relationship over several years from first sight, through early passions and intense intimacies to the eventual and slow demise of their partnership.
The experience of watching the relationship unfold is profoundly voyeuristic. There’s an acute discomfort in how deeply the audience infiltrates these two characters’ lives – with almost awkward close ups of eating, sleeping, crying as well as the vivid sex scenes.
Blue is set in Lille, an industrial city in Northern France and provides a snapshot of a modern and bohemain French youth through political protests, Franco-Arab culture and gay pride parades. The film also deals with subtle socio-cultural divisions.
Adèle is from a lower-middle class family and modest in her ambitions to become a school teacher, Emma, an artist. has more lofty aspirations and at times seems disappointed in Adèle’s contentment with her. It’s these simple, unspoken tensions which gradually fracture the solidity of the relationship.
This is foremost a film about life and the coming of age of a young woman. Like most foreign scripts a certain amount of the intended meaning becomes lost in translation: The French title of the film is ‘La Vie d’Adèle—Chapitres 1 et 2′, implying that this is a story not just of a great love, but of Adèle’s life at a time when this affair was central to it. The film ends, inconclusive, ambigious and unhappily – if not in good time.
‘Blue is the Warmest Colour‘ is an epic love story and it is long at three hours’ running time. Experiencing this relationship from the giddy beginning to the crushing end will leave viewers emotionally exhausted, but it’s worth it to witness these remarkably palpable performances.
At selected cinemas only.
Lead image © Wild Bunch Distribution