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'Blue is the Warmest Color' review: The color of transition and exploration

Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux at Cannes for "Blue is the Warmest Color."
Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux at Cannes for "Blue is the Warmest Color."
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Blue is the Warmest Color


Released on DVD and blu-ray on Feb. 25, as part of the Criterion Collection, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a unique French film that dares convention. Romance films often lead a main character to find personal truths through love and loss, and “Blue is the Warmest Color” leads its protagonist into a full exploration of self over a few years time with no conclusion; Adele’s is an on-going and fluid story, refusing to put limitations on her by defining her.

A teenager, Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is an average young woman. She gossips with her friends, goes to clubs, and hangs out with her family. Adele encounters blue-haired, older Emma (Lea Seydoux) and is quickly intrigued. By chance, she spots Emma again and follows her into a lesbian bar. As Adele becomes more entranced by Emma, she is opened to a new world of love, experimentation, philosophy, passion, art, and desire. Throughout the film, she faces constant challenges of belonging and fitting in.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” has quickly been labeled a lesbian movie, but Adele’s story is more about her curiosity than only her sex life. “Blue…” is a thoughtful coming-of-age tale; it’s a tale of learning, experiencing more than just sex. She transforms, becoming more self-confident and branching out her interests. Time is a blur as our protagonist flows through life. Emma is her teacher and first love, a position that defines Adele’s growth and development.

It is impossible to discuss “Blue…” without mentioning its graphic scenes. Director Abdellatif Kechiche leaves little to the imagination as the two women perform sexual acts. The film earns its NC-17 rating by showcasing sex that is so realistic that it verges on porn. Even the least prudish viewers might question the necessity of such a graphic display.

Based on a graphic novel, “Blue is the Warmest Color” challenges viewers. Though the lesbian love is treated much like any other romantic story, the film tests viewers; in its three-hour length, “Blue…” tells its story without clear transitions in time along with its extended explicit content. It is an artistic journey but not for average audiences.

Rating for “Blue is the Warmest Color:” B+

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.