Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Stars: Adéle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, and quite a few others but it’s really about them.
Adele is a young woman discovering who she is. After a sexual encounter with a man, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious blue-haired woman, a fine art student who is a few years older than her, Emma. The two of them begin a passionate affair and the film follows them as their relationship matures and progresses.
This film is three hours long and it’s subtitled, and those two things are going to put some people off immediately. The film really is about their relationship and not much else happens, so that’s probably going to make people think twice about watching Blue is the Warmest Colour but I found it an interesting watch. It’s immersive and engaging so much so that I didn’t notice three hours had passed, and it certainly didn’t feel like it, even though the film does have some slow moments. It also encompasses a number of years, although it’s not always clear that time has passed so it demands the audience does some work and pays attention.
The thing that immediately struck me was the style of the director. The camera was always in close up, giving the feeling that the audience is invading the privacy of these people. It’s an incredibly intimate film, and so much attention is paid to the actresses expressions and reactions that I think you could probably watch this without subtitles and still understand what’s going on.
But there’s something else that needs to be spoken about as well – the sex scenes. They are very graphic and some of them last for a long time, and again, this may make some viewers uncomfortable as there are points when it feels like the sex scenes are there for a cheap thrill rather than serving the purpose of the story. The passion shown is relevant as it shows the devotion and heat of their relationship, and sex is shown to illustrate their burning emotions (and later on the absence of sex shows how emotional distance is affecting their relationship).
The lead actresses are superb, especially Exarchopoulos. There’s no Hollywood ‘single tear rolling down a cheek’ here, it’s full on tears streaming, puffy face, snot dripping down weeping and it feels raw. Blue is the Warmest Colour is a visual movie and there are various clues given to foreshadow later events, like the way Emma first approaches Adele in the bar. The relationship is moving, and as their attraction deepens the differences between them become clear, perhaps no more so than when you contrast the scenes of them meeting each other’s parents. With Emma’s parents Adele can be herself, but in the reverse they have to pretend that Emma is tutoring Adele in philosophy.
It’s also clear that these are two people in very different stages. I got the sense that Emma was always quite dismissive of Adele for not wanting to pursue creative endeavors and being content to settle for being a teacher, whereas Emma always wanted to make a statement and try to influence the world. The arguments between them are raw, and it ends without a neat conclusion, but with the feeling that Adele at least has a better sense of who she is and what she wants out of life.
There’s a lot to discuss about this film and it’s well worth watching. It’s not going to be for everyone, that’s a certainty, but if it catches your interest it’s definitely worth checking out.