Blue Is the Warmest Color was the most controversial film released last year. Sadly, it’s because of this that hardly anyone is seeing it. The 3 hour long French language lesbian love epic is a true testament to the truth that cinema can be powerful, even in its simplicity. There doesn’t need to be complex story lines. Heavy handed special effects. No, cinema can be just as meaningful if there exists characters that the audience can care about. And this movie has them.
Adele Exarchopoulos plays the aptly named Adele, a high school outcast who can’t seem to find her place. She does her share of experimenting, but can never seem to find what it is she is looking for in life. Until she meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), a mysterious blue haired girl who just happens to have a thing for girls herself. The two quickly bond and the film takes its time in spanning years of their lifetime together. But it isn’t your ordinary “10 Years Later” type of time jump. Instead, it uses its environment to try to allow you to figure out how much time has past. Characters hair styles change and work places change, and the director never treats the audience as dummies. And that is something to rave about.
The story, based on the French graphic novel of the same name, is a simple one that we’ve seen before. A teenager can’t seem to find her place in the world until she falls in love and realizes that person has what she was looking for all along. But the story doesn’t have to be an original one. It’s still alluring. But what brings the graphic novel to life so vibrantly are the performances, especially that of Adele Exarchopoulos. This movie is three hours long and in that amount of time this character goes through so much and the amount of emotions that Adele brings to the table floored me. Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and deservedly so, but I find it to be rather embarrassing that the Oscars didn’t even nominate Adele. You can argue that it’s because of the film’s lurid content, but that shouldn’t matter. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen from any actress in 2013. Also fantastic is Léa Seydoux as the girl who comes into Adele’s life. The entire movie is riding on their chemistry, and it’s a success. Though they have stated that the filming process was “horrible” and that they would never work with director Abdellatif Kechiche again, the final result is something that even the actresses said made it worth it.
Regarding Abdellatif Kechiche, I must say that this movie is incredibly directed. With the care and precision of the two lead actresses, Kechiche manages to direct them flawlessly in their dramatic confrontations that seem to last forever. And that’s a good thing. Not like in The Counselor where Cormac McCarthy’s script made characters keep rambling on and on about what concluded with nothing meaningful. No, this script by Ghalia Lacroix and Abdellatif Kechiche himself is one that has its characters embark on long, dialogue centered scenes that are always intriguing and acted to perfection. But not only do the scenes go on forever, but so also do the camera shots. Long takes are something that I admire, and this director set them up perfectly. But in addition to my praise of the longer dramatic scenes in the movie, the longer sex scenes in the movie provide the only issue I had with the movie. Okay, they’re very well done and I must say that I did enjoy myself while watching them. Let’s just be honest here. The problem isn’t that there are hot lesbian sex scenes. It’s a three hour long movie about a lesbian couple. There better be some scenes in there. The problem I had with them was that the director seemed to make them go on longer than they really needed to. Make sure you keep in mind that Blue Is the Warmest Color is rated NC-17 for a reason. It’s one of the most sexually explicit movies I’ve ever seen. So much so that the sex scenes, to me, did feel like pornography posing as art. I found that to be a flaw, no matter how exciting they were to watch.
But just because it has a few scenes that creep into porno territory, that doesn’t make it a three hour long porno. This is a movie with a lot of heart put on display by its two main stars. It’s no surprise that Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, and Nicole Kidman (the judging panel at the Cannes film festival) awarded the Palm d’Or to these two actresses as well as the director, which has never happened before. If you are old enough and feel that you can handle the graphic nature of it, I highly recommend that you watch Blue Is the Warmest Color. Now streaming on Netflix.