Based 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.
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!