Blue is the warmest color(La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2)

Blue is the warmest color is a brilliant coming of age drama which has been adapted from a graphic novel of the same name. It is written and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. It won the Palme D’or at Cannes in 2013 and was the first time the honor was awarded with the stipulation that it be shared with the two leading ladies and the director. Make no mistake that this is in anyway an easy, run of the mill romance. It is one of the most intense love stories I have ever watched on film. I loved it so much that I watched it twice in 24 hrs!

Adele(Adèle Exarchopoulos) ,a high school student is going through her last years of high school. She is very sure of what she wants out of her future career as a kindergarten teacher. She is a typical middle class, older teen going through school, sharing gossip and possible romances, until a fateful encounter with a blue haired girl on the street. Confused about her own reaction towards this stranger, she decides to test her sexual waters with a boy, but ultimately ends up faking everything. She ultimately breaks up with him. She meets the blue haired stranger Emma(Léa Seydoux) at a gay bar and they share a conversation. There is no stopping this train from the moment they met each other on the street. The rest of the movie is about their passionate relationship’s ups and downs over the next 6-7 yrs.

The pace of the movie is something that takes a little getting used to and that is not a bad thing in anyway. The camera work is done in very closeup shots and remains focused on ordinary actions like eating for an inordinately long amount of time. But this makes us the viewer to be forced to not just be a voyeur in these two lovers life, but be very much a part of their world. The director is very taken with textures of food, skin, flesh, you name it. I found this fascinating, may be because I like art and paintings. Every flicker of the eye, every glance is captured and rendered beautifully to show us this fascinating relationship. Stick with the narrative to the end and you will be rewarded with a one of the most superbly acted scenes that is set in Emma’s apartment.

You can see that both the actors were made to pay with blood,sweat and tears(literally) to give us these brilliantly immersive performances. Adèle Exarchopoulos is completely captivating on screen. She gave a very visceral performance and Kechiche made sure her expressiveness was fully utilized. Léa Seydoux was perfect as the outwardly tough, seasoned lesbian. I know I have not addressed the scene that has been the talk of the town, so to speak. The long lesbian sex scene, that seems to be the biggest topic of conversation regarding this movie. The lesbians think it is not authentic and that it caters to a male fantasy( director’s), the labor people complain about the working conditions in which it was shot. Yes it is long, yes it is very intense and yes it is two women. Could it have been short and still conveyed the intensity, yes it could’ve been. But I can see the directors intention too. He wanted to show the total abandon with which Adele participated with Emma and the contrast with how she was with her attempt at sex with someone with whom she had no chemistry(the boyfriend). Also the length of the scene is in keeping with the pace of the rest of the movie. Just like in the rest of the movie, the camera lingers, there is no hurry, the pauses between conversations are not rushed, and in between those pauses a flickers of the eye of a shy glance an communicate volumes. Which I thought was beautiful, but I can see how the same narrative devices can seem too intimate and make it too intense in a sex scene. I found a very interesting interview with the leading ladies at the Daily Beast, which created rift between them and the director. It is a very interesting read, to see the price they both had to pay for this brilliant movie. Like the interviewer I selfishly felt the end justified the means. Easy for me to say!

Definitely a must watch. Parents send the kiddies to bed and be ready to dedicate 3 hrs of your life to do this movie justice. Excellent movie all around.


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