Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour

As Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) crosses Place Richebé in Lille, France, on what appears to be a seamlessly mundane day, and gazes upon the cool blue-haired, boyish eyes of Emma (Léa Seydoux), from that moment on, she knows she has fallen in love, and at that particular moment, so do we. Read on!

Blue is the Warmest Colour is an exquisite, enthralling and utterly honest love story set for a generation of sexually confused or experimental youth culture. The film speaks volumes in the arena of love; commenting on the beauty of love-at-first sight, the hardship of first loves and the reality of eventual clichéd relationship temptations. The film imposes itself as a raw slice of Adele’s life.

Do not get discouraged with the staggering three hour long runtime, Blue is the Warmest Colour is a pleasing reality-based, hard-hitting depiction of our young generation’s internal thought process in dealing with love. Unflinching with unequivocal passion, Blue may be one of the most reminiscent film-to-reality love stories.

French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche strategically floods the film with aesthetic close ups to allow audience members to make the connection between the uncomfortable reaction of gazes which he observes in the film (most specifically those towards Adele), to the conversation of gazes in gay, straight, beautiful and grotesque members of society. Blue is the Warmest Colour is a film with many colours, some of them darker, and some of them brighter than others.

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The film follows Adele; a beautifully luscious, confidently curvaceous, knocked-kneed high school student through her escapades from youth to confused adulthood. We first see our lead in high school, flipping the pages of La Vie de Marianne, an unfinished novel by Pierre de Marivaux, which explicitly acts as a parallel to Blue. Peer-pressured by her obnoxious and immature schoolmates into beginning a relationship with a senior, Adele gives in to her friends and to the conventional. Exploring areas of her emotions, sexuality and physical limitations, Adele is left unmoved with her experiences with the boy. With almost no time in-between, Adele is lured into the unknown homosexual world of female attraction by a confusing and undefined friend at school, which thrusts Adele into the underworld of gay bars and lesbian hang-outs. In search of the unknown stranger crossing the street who floods her dreams and sexual tendencies, Adele is hopeful in her path to discovery. When Adele slips into a small bar and runs into Emma, the blue-haired fine arts student who has been the longing affection of her eye, they enrich one-another with an intense series of stares and dialogue-free looks that speak anthologies. As the sun sets and dusk begins to fill the air, Blue thwarts us to a salivating, engrossing and infamous sex scene complete with trembling bodies, unedited oral sex and a whole lot of slapping and smacking. As contrary to popular beliefs, the film is not  solely about sex, especially this scene in particular.

If I am being completely honest, as I exited the theatre, the film did not impact me in the way that I thought it would. My fondness of the film did not really take hold until I began writing this review and, it wasn’t until then, that I explored the ways in which the film spread its infectious charm into my heart. As a whole, the film is a mysterious art piece. Surrounded by controversy between the predatory directing style of the filmmaker to the treatment of the actresses, to the glorified girl-on-girl sex scenes, to the unconventional filming techniques (no hair and make-up artists were on set, ad-libbed dialogue, elongated shooting schedules etc), the film is a miraculous testament to the power of its simple yet enduring storytelling. Whether or not the controversy of the film is what lured you to it (or the promise of outer-world lesbian sex scenes), the film will surely put to rest those loud accusations and replace them with an imminent pursuit of deep buried, personal demons.

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Based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, the film is an emotionally authentic journey of a woman in search of a sexuality that will inevitably bring her happiness. All the while, the film makes deliberate jabs and quips on the quickly crumbling European economy and stark symbols of the French class system. Constantly graphic and emotionally exhausting, Emma and Adele begin a journey that is the foundation of their sexual expectations. But don’t get caught up with the longevity of the sex scenes or the graphic nature of the two sprawling bodies on the beds, Adele’s and Emma’s positions in the bedroom are reminiscent of the emotions that they portray in the film, visually appealing yet logically illogical. As Adele and Emma constantly engage in elongated instances of cunnilingus, eventually, we as the audience becomes desensitized to the unfamiliar images on screen. Instead we begin to pay more attention to the passion and allure of these two women and are attracted more to the chemistry of Adele and Emma. This in turn allows us to examine our own relationship traits and experiences.

One of the more unnerving pressures of writing this review, as a young and enriched film critic, to those professional reviews I am sure you will read on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, is the factor of how closely I am able to follow and relate to the situations and scenarios in which Emma and Adele find themselves in. Leering with instances of infinite tenderness and ravishing displays of sexual ecstasy, the film serves as a self-reflexive examination of the possibilities of my own relationships for the future and my experiences with partners in the past. Blue is the Warmest Colour is a current, fresh and unapologetic depiction of the young people’s screwed up decision-making.

Within the narrative, Adele quickly becomes the muse to Emma’s passion of art and work. Grounded and more transfixed with the ability to help others, Adele becomes a teacher and exercises the examples of so many of her adoring educational mentors throughout her childhood. At times, the film becomes a concurrent dissection of the education system. Using the realms of the classroom against the world of art galleries, actors and artists, Blue becomes an intertwined connection between two very clashing professions. Whereas Emma, whose life is entangled in a rich world of art, culture and sometimes obnoxious philosophical rants, becomes a student of dexterity. Within some of the implicit yet intricate scenes in which we can compare on how each girl interacts with the different world’s of their partner, we come to the realization that there are universal constants, regardless of country, culture or language. Unwilling to share the truth with her routine driven, pasta-Bolognese eating parents, Adele introduces Emma as her tutor for philosophy rather than her lover. Adele’s father, more concerned with Emma’s means of making a living as a painter, is put to ease once Emma lies about her imaginary businessman boyfriend and gives off an air of normality and heterosexuality. While at Emma’s parents house, ardent on good food and even better wine, Emma’s mother and stepfather put Adele on the burner and question her reasons as to why she would choose a profession and career in teaching, when her appetite for writing and literature is so ferocious in her youth. Both households in the film just show the tip of the iceberg of the European mindsets and the juxtaposing foundations in which both women were brought up to and how it challenges the tropes of their own relationship.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour does not pretend to be anything its not. Like so many first love stories, they end, and this is by no means a spoiler. Blue shows all the shades of a relationship; the breathtaking beginning, the mediated middle and the excruciating ending. Thus becoming a character study as much as it is a study of relationships, regardless of its sexual orientation.

Blue is a large cinematic feat in the category of acting. There isn’t enough marvel and praise I can give to the two lead actresses, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux. Both women give new meaning to acting in motion; whether it be scenes of indulging in food, indulging in their own sexual appetites or showcasing moments of complete distrust, anger and rage, the two actresses are destined to have delivered a momentous high in each of their acting careers.

Physically and emotionally, Blue is the Warmest Colour delivers warm reminders of the beauty of partnership and the cold feeling of desperate and unwanted loneliness. The film is a sophisticated and gorgeously artistic account of the sultry, sexy and unexpected spell in which love puts people and just how quickly we can lose that potion. Essentially, as seen in its title, Blue becomes a didactic oxymoron towards the path of understanding, living and learning how to love and how to be loved. We may never know if Adele is, or ever was a lesbian, but truthfully, that isn’t the point as the film fades to black and the closing credits roll.

Blue is the Warmest Colour is the first Palme D’or winner I was able to see in theaters, and it was truly a cinematically orgasmic, engrossingly bittersweet account of real life and growing up. I am sure, thanks to the controversy surrounding the film, many viewers will be lured and disappointed with its far from mainstream exterior as well as be turned off with its art-house genetics. But fortunately for the film, as they say, there is no such thing as bad controversy. It is in my greatest hope that this film gives viewers of mainstream cinema a little taste of the new and widens their cinematic pallet. Just like trying oysters for the first time, sometimes the look of something is far less appealing than the actual taste of it. Blue is the Warmest Colour has my vote for the most audacious film by its filmmaker and leads. Hot and wildly horny, Blue is the Warmest Colour will be one that will follow you, even over deep sea baby, for many years to come.

Night Film Reviews: 9/10 Stars.

Is Blue is the Warmest Colour the movie of the year or art-house disaster? Overwhelmed with its three hour runtimes or captivated by its genuine, raw emotion? Let us know what you think of the film and any comments you may have. 

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