“Is it worth paying for a ticket?”: Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)

001_blue_is_the_warmest_color_largeBased on a graphic novel of the same name by Julie Maroh, Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche) tells the story of Adèle, a high school student who is blossoming into adulthood. Adèle has a fairly regular life, she enjoys studying and has some good friends and a potential boyfriend. One day, she spies a young woman with bright blue hair crossing the street and is captivated by her. This small occurrence changes her life from then on. Blue is the Warmest Colour is a true epic film in the very sense of the word, telling the story of Adèle’s life as it changes and develops over a number of years, and also the development of her love with blue-haired Emma.

Finally this film has been released in Australia! For some reason, it was released here much later than everywhere else in the world. I’ve had the time to read through everyone else’s (spoiler-free) reviews, and after reading so many wonderful things about this film, my expectations were very, very high.

What a beautiful film. Firstly, the acting is so impressive by newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos. There is such a transformation in Adèle from the beginning of the film to its bittersweet conclusion, which is portrayed in a very subtle yet noticeable way by Exarchopoulos. Little things like changing the way she eats, the way she wears her hair, and her body’s posture, show that the same character is growing up but retaining her original persona. Where Exarchopoulos shines in this film is during its most passionate moments – not just the infamous sex scene, but also during the film’s numerous arguments. Her portrayal of sadness and grief is so pure that at times it’s painful to watch. Léa Seydoux is also very impressive as Emma, but she’s definitely out-acted by Exarchopoulos who tends to steal the show.

The direction of this film has a gaze that at times reminded me of a classical painting. The camera is always moving, which gives the film a realism that other more static films don’t have. During some moments, the camera is handheld, lending a sense of urgency or panic. During others, the camera moves in a fluid way that allows you to take in all of the visual information in a scene. The cinematography is heavy on the blue motif, and is a visceral combination between gritty and beautiful. When considering the excellent direction in combination with the amazing cinematography, this film is just so visually impressive. When excellent acting, direction, and cinematography come together for an epic film about life and love, the result is something that will stay with you for much longer than the duration of the film.

wpid-blue-is-the-warmest-colour

Regarding the sex scenes: This film values realism above all else. When we watch Adèle crying, the camera does not shy away from her contorted face, the strings of saliva in her mouth, her constantly running nose, and tears streaming down her face. If the film values realism in sadness, and shows the physical extent of sadness without restraint, why not continue to display that realism when it comes to sexual relationships? Although the realism of the content of the sex scenes in this film might be disputed by some (warning: that video is definitely NSFW!), I respect the director’s choice to have explicit sex scenes in the film; with both female and male partners for Adèle. The film shows Adèle’s romantic relationships as they honestly exist and develop, and that includes the intimate moments as well.

However, at the same time I think it’s sad that this film has become synonymous with its sex scenes. It was always going to happen with a film as provocative as this one, but it’s frustrating to see people writing off the beautiful and realistic core of the film and dismissing it as a film all about lesbian sex. I will say, though, that even with the lights off and a relative sense of anonymity, the sex scene was fairly awkward to watch in the cinema and there was a lot of throat-clearing by certain members of the audience.

Judging from interviews between the film’s two stars, it sounds like this one was a very difficult film to make. Hundreds of takes for one scene, 10 days to do some very physically taxing sex scenes repeatedly, an obsessive and potentially difficult to work with director who seems extremely strict at the best of times. But, to the director’s credit, his obsessiveness has paid off. Each scene is a separate piece of art. The film is so emotionally raw, that I can imagine even one wrong take might have ruined its intensity. As aforementioned, the result of this obsessive-compulsive approach to directing is incredibly impressive.

It is absolutely worth seeing this one in the cinema, if you have the countenance to stick through a three-hour film. Blue is the Warmest Colour is a beautiful film about love, personal growth, and the life cycle of romantic relationships. I was looking forward to seeing it for a long time, and I was not disappointed at all. It lived up to all of my expectations of it, and then some. Loved it.

Is it worth paying for a ticket?: Yes! If it’s still in cinemas where you are. If it’s not still at the cinema, it’s well worth checking out on DVD, iTunes, Netflix, et cetera.
Watch the trailer here.

Watch this film on Amazon!

42 comments

  1. On balance this movie is good and does have a strong emotional core. I think it totally worth seeing.

    Though I also think it has its share of flaws.

    1. Totally. I think it’ll take me a while to get over the heartbreak of this film before I can let the flaws sink in!

  2. Still have not got around to reviewing it, but I also think it was worth the ticket price. The director was clearly set on creating a piece of art, and it showed its toll considering the controversy, but it cannot be denied that he succeeded. The film went on a little longer than it really should have, but as a piece on love and young relationships, it worked exceptionally well.

    1. Totally agreed. I’d love to read your review eventually! 🙂

  3. Very well said Anna, I couldn’t agree more really.

    And yes, it is a bit of a shame that a majority of people are likely to write it off because of some of its content; big mistake. At the heart of this film is one of the most real and devastating relationship developments I’ve personally ever seen. Amazing, amazing work of art for sure and hard to believe it wasn’t selected as a nominee for Best Foreign Film. It seems that the NSFW content hissing extends to the Academy as well.

    1. Thanks Tom. 🙂 I’ve heard a couple of people describe it as ‘the French lesbian film’ and my immediate response sounds something like “NNnnooooo hgjdgjd”. I’m pretty aggravated that it didn’t make the Best Foreign Film category as well. Absolutely robbed.

  4. Wonderful review. Just wonderful.

    And Adèle’s performance in my opinion is the strongest all-round performance of 2013. Wasn’t expecting it to be so raw, natural & emotional. A masterpiece of a love story & even better as a coming-of-age drama.

    1. Thanks so much! 🙂 You’ve hit the nail on the head there, this film is an absolute masterpiece. Still can’t get over how amazing Exarchopoulos was.

  5. This movie’s been on my radar ever since it popped up in a lot of Best Of 2013 lists, though this is the first I’ve heard of the infamous sex scene. I’ll be watching this with an open mind when I get around to it. Great review.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I’d love to read what you think about it!

  6. Lovely review! I hear a lot of good things about it, and will certainly check it out should I come across it!

    1. Thank you Zoe! 🙂 I hope you do get the chance to check it out!

  7. Awesome! Still my favorite film of 2013, but watch out I get to see Nymphomaniac very soon 😀

    1. I can’t wait to see Nymphomaniac! I’ve learned not to have any expectations when it comes to Lars von Trier’s films but I’m really looking forward to it.

  8. Really great review. Missed this at cinemas but really interested in checking it out, heard pretty much only good things about it.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 Good news, I just found out it’s available on Netflix!

  9. Definitely not your basic “based on a graphic novel” movie is it? 🙂

    1. Definitely not! Someone should do a post on ‘best films adapted from graphic novels’. It has to have been done before!

  10. Good review Anna. One of the more honest, brutally heart-breaking movies about romance I’ve seen in quite some time, that also just so happens to feature two women.

    1. Thanks Dan! Absolutely heartbreaking, I think I’m still getting over it.

  11. Great review. This sounds like an interesting one and I’ve heard lots of good things about it. Hope I can catch it soon.

    1. Thanks! I hope you get to catch it soon too, it’s too beautiful to miss.

  12. Wonderful review. I was lucky enough to see it in theaters and you are right in comparing the look of it to a classical painting.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I keep saying the word ‘beautiful’ and I feel like I’m repeating myself, but it really was. I’m still thinking about it!

  13. Haha, love your description of the people awkwardly watched it in the cinema!

    Good news: this film is now on the US Netflix streaming!

    1. Oh my god, so much awkward coughing and throat-clearing. Normally I would evaporate into a pile of dust when feeling that awkward but luckily I wanted to stick around for the rest of the film. I wish we had Netflix here!

  14. Lovely review, Anna! It was such a wonderful film, and made me completely rethink my dislike for long films — some films deserve to be long. I had to pay 25 AUD for the ticket and I still think it was more than worth it.

    1. Thanks Elina! You’re right, some films just need the time and space to be told. I can’t imagine this one being shorter than what it is! Holy crud, is that Norway cinema pricing? Time for a trip to Sweden! 🙂

  15. I liked reading your review! I still haven’t seen it myself and though I want, I have reservations due to what I’ve heard about the director’s male gaze towards the two girls, particularly during the sex scenes. I’m not put off by sex scenes at all, I just don’t really care for objectification. Any thoughts on that?

    1. Thank you! 🙂 Yeah, after reading lots about this film I had similar reservations as well and expected it to be some pornish moment that would be really exploitative. I’m normally very critical of male gaze and female objectification, but for some reason I didn’t get that with this film. Even though the sex scene is very long and very detailed, it does fit with the overall tone of the film. If the film had a super short sex scene, or a fade-to-black moment where we don’t see anything, that would kind of go against the rest of the film where the minutiae of Adèle’s life is shown and explored. But the scene is certainly not thrown in there just to see them having sex. I think if it was thrown in there for the sake of being there, it would amount to objectification. In my eyes it was a key moment for Adèle’s character development. Although I can imagine the creeper factor at play, where a male director makes two girls have simulated sex on film for ten days in order to get the “perfect” scene, which makes me feel even more awkward than actually watching it. I really hope this comment makes sense because when re-reading it, it sounds all over the place!

  16. […] Snub for Best Foreign Language Film: Blue is the Warmest Colour Beyond comprehension. How was this not nominated? I want to ask if the people doing the foreign […]

  17. […] future, never before has a film about love felt so current and relevant (except for Blue is the Warmest Colour, of […]

  18. […] Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux didn’t get nominated for their beautiful performances in Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), and this cavalcade of mediocrity did, is actually physically painful for me to think […]

  19. […] is my second post on this fantastic film. I reviewed Blue is the Warmest Colour earlier this year for an “Is it worth paying for a ticket?” […]

  20. Wonderful review! Exarchopoulos’s performance really is breathtaking – so natural, intense and emotional. This is one of the best coming of age films I’ve ever seen.

    1. Thanks Veronika! I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing Exarchopoulos is in this film. Absolutely stunning.

  21. Reblogged this on and commented:
    After hours of browsing through FILM GRIMOIRE ‘s blog and admiring its reviews, I came across this post. Blue is the Warmest Color is a film I haven’t had the privilege watching in the cinema, but rather on Netflix, and I am in awe of both directors and main actresses. I couldn’t elaborate any better than Anna from FILM GRIMOIRE, as her review sums it up perfectly. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks so much for the reblog! Loved this film, still thinking about it months and months later.

  22. […] don’t necessarily have a problem with gratuitous sex scenes if a film is actually good (read: Blue is the Warmest Colour). But the levels of sex and violence (and often a combination of both) are absolutely ridiculous in […]

  23. […] only two other couples in the cinema at the time. It was less awkward to see in the cinema than Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013). But still, not worth seeing. Please read up on the awesome feminist criticisms of the […]

  24. […] Craig’s Bond. Watching her in Spectre reminded me of how much I adored her performance in Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), and thinking about that film in comparison with Spectre caused me to reflect upon how […]

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