Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Adele (Exarchopoulos) is a French high school student who is beginning to explore herself as a maturing woman. Despite dating a young man from school, she struggles with unresolved feelings about her sexuality. One day while walking in the city square, an exotic young lady sporting evocative blue hair catches Adele’s attentive gaze. Instantly infatuated, Adele finds herself vividly fantasizing about this unknown woman, which only adds to her confusion. Noticing this recent internal strife, close friend Valentin tries to help by taking her out to a gay club he often frequents. Bored and awkwardly out of place, Adele leaves her friend and wanders into a lesbian bar where by chance she encounters this same blue-haired girl. After exchanging suggestive glances from across the club, Emma, despite being with another woman, saunters over to Adele and the two share a very flirtatious conversation. As the two begin hanging out more and more, a passionate relationship emerges as their overwhelming attraction becomes too powerful to ignore.
All I can say is what a film! For me there may be no better feeling than being in the presence of truly great cinema. Winner of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or, Blue is the Warmest Color is one of those rare films that actually lives up to the lofty praise and expectations placed upon it. Adele Exarchopolous and Lea Seydoux who plays Emma, give incredibly fearless and emotive performances. Right from their initial introduction, the viewer is immediately aware of the instantaneous connection between these two. Asked to portray impassioned lovers, their sex scenes are some of the most erotic and lust filled ever conveyed on screen. Director Abdellatif Kechiche, through the an abundant use of close-ups, is able to perfectly capture every emotional nuance shared between these two striking characters.
Those considering Blue Is The Warmest Color should be aware however it is not free of controversy or complaints from some. Subtitled and clocking in at just under three hours long, Blue is rated NC-17 for its unabashed portrayal of the sexual relationship shared between these two passionate women. Some have taken issue with these very graphic intimate depictions, claiming them to be gratuitous or exploitative. While these scenes are admittedly realistic and uninhibited, they are vital in showing the sensually lascivious connection these two women share along with aiding in the telling of Adele’s exploration and discovery about herself.
Recently released on Blu-ray and DVD by the famed Criterion Collection, Blue Is The Warmest Color joins the likes of Amour and The Hunt as exceptional examples of what modern world cinema has to offer for those open to it. Relative unknown Adele Exarchopoulos is a revelation on screen, adeptly capturing the many confusing emotions brought on by questioned sexuality and from social pressures that surround the idea of living an “alternative lifestyle.” Blue Is The Warmest Color is an excellent yet challenging film that I truly believe most viewers will find is worth the effort.-JL