It’s too bad the French film, ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ is shrouded in controversy since winning the Palme d’Or (equivalent to the Best Picture Oscar) at Cannes. American director Steven Spielberg headed up the jury and they were spot-on with this romantic drama. Hands down, it is the Best Foreign Language Film of the year and I don’t see how the Academy can ignore it during award season. It is one of those films that linger with you after leaving the movie theater. Director Abdellatif Kechiche has crafted a beautiful love story. As Spielberg eloquently comments, “The film makes you feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to be invited into the story of deep love and deep heartbreak.”
Some moviegoers may be turned off by the explicit sex scenes. One in particular goes on for almost ten minutes. Nevertheless, no one can deny that the film is a groundbreaking love story. Kechiche achieves the joy and heartbreak of first love. His style of filmmaking is so graphic and emotional that you cannot help but be consumed by the two lovers on screen. Kechiche shoots every scene with intimacy. He mainly shoots in close-ups and uses the color blue throughout the film. The sex scenes are abrupt and startling. They perfectly depict the heat of passion. Be forewarned, the sex scenes are lengthy and carnal. This is not tender lovemaking but uninhibited sexual desire which is the director’s intention.
The story opens in a high-school literature class in the Northern French working-class town of Lille. The students are studying the novel “La Vie de Marianne” by Pierre de Marivaux. The camera focuses on Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), a bright 17-year-old schoolgirl who is hungry to learn about the world around her. She devours ideas in her philosophy class with as much gusto as her father’s spaghetti bolognese at dinner time. Kechiche shows us close-ups of Adele’s pouty lips smeared with ragu sauce. Food is one of the motifs in the film along with art and sex. At school, Adele has a brief fling with a boy but the experience leaves her unfulfilled. Then, at a crosswalk, she locks eyes with Emma (Lea Seydoux), a pretty young woman with blue-streaked hair. It is a mesmerizing scene as Adele acts like she has been hit by a truck. The young actress totally captures the euphoric feeling of love at first sight.
One night at a bar, Adele catches sight of the blue-haired Emma who returns her gaze. Kechiche uses the color blue to represent happiness and it pops up throughout the film to remind us of that exciting first encounter. Their first conversation is skillfully shot and not rushed. We find out that Emma is a four-year fine art student. She is confident and well-versed in philosophy. The older Emma is amused by the teenage girl’s infatuation of her. It’s another meeting, when Emma sketches Adele in the park, where the relationship is taken to the next level. She finds out that Adele wants to be a schoolteacher. Consequently, the worldly Emma takes on the role of teacher and Adele gladly assumes the role of voracious student. Several years go by and their relationship shows them living together and painfully growing apart. It’s a fascinating character study.
The last half of the film deals with the disintegration of their relationship. It is done with such authenticity. Everyone can identify with it. We’ve all been there. It shows how relationships sometimes grow in lopsided directions. During a backyard dinner party, we see it with our own eyes. Emma’s art career begins to take off. Adele feels alone and out of place as Emma mingles with her art friends. There is an unpleasant breakup and a desperate attempt from Adele at reconciliation at a café. It is a moving scene between the two actresses. Adele is begging for another chance with tears and mucous dribbling down her nose. You feel Adele’s pain. It’s so heartbreaking because we can empathize with her. And that’s the beauty of ‘Blue is the Warmest Color.’ It is an intimate look at an intense relationship between two young lovers. As one of Adele’s schoolteachers disclose early in the film, “Tragedy is the unavoidable… it is what we can’t escape.” Cinephiles, this is definitely one film not to miss. Check out the official trailer http://youtu.be/Y2OLRrocn3s.