Blue is the Warmest Color isn’t a movie about a young same-sex relationship. Well, it is…but it’s more than that. It’s a film about being young and throwing yourself into love with everything you have. Shadowed by all kinds of controversy, it’s a film that hasn’t been easy to get a hold of. From its NC-17 rating here in the States to the questionable filming ethics of director Abdellatif Kechiche, the movie has had its fair share of dissension among audiences. When watching the movie, however, it’s best to completely forget about all that and enjoy this movie for the amazing piece of work that it is. If you can get past the 3 hour run time and the numerous lengthy sex scenes, which I suggest that you do, this is a poignant film about something most of us are all familiar with; what it’s like to be young and in love.
The film’s original name is La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2 and follows the life of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) over a span of several years. It is a fairly predictable story of a young girl exploring her sexuality and who eventually falls completely head over heels for blue-haired tomboy Emma (Lea Seydoux). The film follows this couple’s relationship for what seems to be several years, although the exact amount of time is never specified. This may sound like just the average coming-of-age love story that has been told numerous times before, but Blue is the Warmest Color delivers something profoundly human in this story that works to completely absorb you in these two girl’s lives.
Let’s just go ahead and talk about one of the most prominent features of the film: the sex scenes. It’s one of the first things that pops up into conversation when this film is mentioned. The sex scenes are indeed incredibly long and leave really nothing to the imagination. But they are necessary. There isn’t another way that could better communicate to the audience the intense passion that absorbs Adele and Emma’s relationship; the kind of fiery passion that most commonly occurs with a first love. It was an incredibly gutsy move by the director to include these scenes, even for a French film, but they pay off. And you have to hand it to the Exarchopoulos and Seydoux. These two ladies absorbed themselves into their roles and you completely forget they are just actresses. What results is an incredibly realistic portrayal of this couple’s relationship.
Both actresses are just downright amazing in this movie, but it’s Adele who carries the main role and Exarchopoulos plays her as if she is her. She displays what seems to be every sort of emotion known to mankind in this film and her messy hair and natural beauty makes us feel as if we know this girl in real life. We watch her grow throughout the film from a curious teenager into a full-fledged adult as if we were right by her side all along, feeling every emotion that she did on the way. Seydoux is stunning also and it is these two actresses together that make this film work so well in a story that easily could have been cast off as predictable or just simply uninteresting.
The film, as realistic and full of passion it is, does have its faults. You can definitely feel the length of the film, and there are several scenes that could have been cut because they simply don’t add anything to the story (multiple scenes of watching Adele sleep for example). However, you become so involved in these two’s lives that the length isn’t entirely unbearable. And then there is the fact that Adele’s family and friends are fairly prominent in the first hour or so of the movie but then they just completely disappear for the rest of the time. But this movie isn’t about them so that really isn’t a huge factor. The one thing that I found unclear was the timeline of the film. It’s obvious that several years pass but we don’t really know how many and this gets confusing when trying to put important events into perspective.
What makes Blue is the Warmest Color a love story completely different than what you’ve seen before is how incredibly in depth Kechiche chose to go with it. Despite both Exarchopoulos and Seydoux shedding light on Kechiche’s unrelenting and horrid working conditions (they apparently took 10 days to film a single sex scene), they both give absolutely amazing performances. It’s their raw and honest portrayals of their roles that make all 179 minutes of this film worth it in the end, and also what makes them so feel so real. This isn’t just a movie about a same sex couple. This isn’t just a movie that should be known for its sex scenes. This is a movie about what it means to give all of yourself completely over to another person, and all of the passion and heart ache that comes with that.