English Title: Blue is the Warmest Color
Original Title: La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2
Country: France, Tunisia, Belgium, Spain
Language: French, English
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Cinematography: Sofian El Fani
Last year’s Palme d’or winner, the much-hyped French lesbian drama directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, about a high-schooler, Adèle (Exarchopoulos)’s discovery of her sexuality through a heartfelt relationship with Emma (Seydoux), an art college student, it is a visceral rite-of-passage eloquently elaborated in 179 minutes, details a thoroughly poignant metamorphosis of Adèle, from green adolescence to womanhood, and under the parameter of Kechiche’s truth-capture tack, unyielding close-ups and hand-held cameras faithfully records the normality of Adèle’s daily life.
It is a mundane love story but is told with utter finery from sterling performances of the two leads (much hyped by their explicit and elongated sex activities) to the sensational evocation to one’s own crazy first love, revels in a spur-of-the-moment passion, explores all the possibilities for pleasure, falls for another unconditionally, dwells in a nothing-to-lose pipe dream and suffers the ugly consequences, it is a luxury which unfortunately not everyone has the chance to experience, moreover, a more essential lesson is to find who you are, a phase everyone has to undergo through, but the sooner the better, at the very least in the coda, Adèle has her youth and many opportunities await.
The most controversial talking point of the film is its graphic depiction of lesbian sex, personally it is a quite eye-dropping introduction for me, and it is a daring commitment for the two actresses, but narratively speaking, it cannot be entirely dismissed as a cunning stratagem to attract at least a vast heterosexual male demography for the sake of truth-revealing authenticity, as far as I know, there could be more male-repellent sex actions between lesbians which Kechiche purposefully dodges to show on screen, at least on the sex-appeal, it is tacitly (straight) male-friendly.
Yet being a man inherently cannot be distracted by girl-on-girl sex, the film still works for me mostly owing to Exarchopoulos and Seydoux’s intrepid output on screen, Seydoux impersonates an androgynous tomboy with a glamorous lure coherently justifies Adèle’s disadvantaged position it this relationship, Emma is older and more worldly, their breakup is not a passion act, indeed, Emma is wise enough to realise that as an aspiring artist, she cannot garner instant success with a girlfriend only being a nursery teacher, the void gap on their common ground about art is partially detrimental too, so she is slyly waiting for a chance to dump Adèle, that’s why she overacts and completely changes into another person in the falling-out scenes, because she cannot miss this golden opportunity and shovel the blame to Adèle for being a slut, anyone can sense the nuance when her trademark blue hair dyed in blonde, the shift is in the offing. As she admits several years later in the cafeteria, she does’t love her anymore, the sexual libido still resides between them but by then it cannot sustain a relationship by that alone.
Adèle learns her lesson in a hard way, but it is crucial and beneficial for her blossoming into an adult, Exarchopoulos radiates throughout in the once-in-a-lifetime role and is particularly excellent when conveying her transition during the time-span of the film, as if three-hours is not enough for audience to witness her growth in front of our eyes simply because we project too much compassion thanks to her indomitable presence, it is a blessing for her since first love is immensely valuable because it doesn’t last forever, and we all live and learn by that. It is a giant stepping stone for Exarchopoulos’ booming acting career, one do hope she will not be a flash in the pan. In any rate, this film is an exuberant dissection of a girl’s self-reliant saga of growing up, visually expressive and sincerely thought-provoking, Kechiche is definitely on my radar after this.