Review: Blue Is the Warmest Color

My wife and I saw Blue Is the Warmest Color last Friday night.  You may have read that this is the movie with the extended, explicit lesbian love scenes (it carries an 18 rating in the UK).

As I reflected on the film later, it occurs to me that the task of a director, together with those of the actors, are analogous to that of a writer.  In both cases, the artists are striving to tell a story in a way that has unique and special meaning for the audience.  In this respect, Blue is extraordinarily successful: the directing and the acting have an extremely strong effect on the audience.  One cannot help but feel, and sympathise completely with the characters.  The story, itself, provides a firm foundation; it is based on a novel by Julie Maroh: a fifteen-year-old girl of modest circumstances falls in love with an older, middle class, intellectual artist.  But it is the fiery passions of the two characters that make the picture really memorable.  It is the direction of Abdellatif Kechiche, and the acting of Adèle Exarchopoulos (as Adèle, the student) and Léa Seydoux (as Emma, the artist) which give the film its memorable power.  Whatever else you may have heard about this film, in my opinion it is worth seeing just to marvel at the acting and the direction.  (I think it is shameful that after the film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival there was a rather public falling out amongst the actresses and the director.)

This is not to say that the film does not have its flaws.  It’s running time is three hours and seven minutes, and while it is largely successful in carrying its emotional energy that long, I think it would have been more effective had it been edited more rigorously.  At the same time, I felt that a little more attention should have been given to the loneliness which Adèle feels later in the relationship.  She cheats on Emma with a male colleague, and says that she was lonely.  It’s believable, but we were given no evidence of it.  While the average viewer will understand, almost at the outset, that this is a relationship which has no basis in shared values, experiences or goals, it is this lack of shared identity which makes the failure of the relationship so tragic.  The emphasis in the film is on the dramatic break-up.  But it is not the break-up, itself which is the tragedy; it is the causes of the break-up that are tragic.

So, what about the explicit sex scenes?  One of the scenes lasts seven minutes.  Some reviewers have commented that the sex scenes should have been shorter.  In my opinion, the scenes are not erotic.  (While the actresses are fully nude, there were no female genitalia visible.)  There were two absolutely gorgeous female bodies, and the passionate lust was almost palpable!  I read that the author, Julie Maroh, said that the scenes would strike a lesbian audience as ‘ridiculous’.  Maybe so, but for me, they made the point that these women are deeply in love.

If you have a chance, I think that Blue Is the Warmest Color is a film worth seeing.

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