NC-17 has always been a black eye for mainstream films and a badge of honor for violent action and horror movies. In the last few years, filmmakers have worked hard to legitimize the adult-oriented rating. The best example of this is director Steve McQueen’s “Shame.” In the film, a sex-addict struggles to maintain a dead-end life. Despite its graphic sexual material, the film was well-crafted and gave us a look into the mind of a broken man.
The latest example of cinema’s quest to accept NC-17 as acceptable is French film “Blue is the Warmest Color.” Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos as Adèle, a young girl who enjoys literature and reading. Despite her best efforts, she can’t find herself attracted to the boy at school who’s infatuated with her. On a seemingly uninspiring day, a blue-haired woman (Lèa Seydoux as Emma) catches her eye. She can’t get the mysterious woman out of her head. Not long after, Adèle comes across the same woman at an all-female bar. From there, we follow Adèle and her blossoming love for Emma transform her.
“Blue is the Warmest Color” is a long look at the coming of age for a young French woman. With a runtime that barely ends under three hours, the story laboriously draws the audience close and unfolds naturally. At first glance, a three hour French film like a struggle to get through, but the film never stalls. Even the more extraneous elements lend for credibility to Adèle’s story. Leads Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lèa Seydoux breathe such life into their roles that the characters seem to be alive. Long after the film is over, Emma and Adèle linger in the viewer’s thoughts. This is the most realistic and heartfelt romance projected on the big screen this year.
As far as the explicit nature of the film, it definitely merits the rating. The sexual nature of the film is extremely explicit and erotic, though a bit too anatomical at times. However, the film is much more than a few sexual moments. The story is rich with emotion and nuance that helps deepen the connection the two characters share.
Though the material is not suitable for kids, those struggling with their identity could benefit from viewing that film once they reach the proper maturity level. A positive and enriching love story that slowly pulls you in and then refuses to let go. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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