Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)

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Known to some as the winner of the 2013 Palme d’Or at Cannes, known to some as an extraordinary work of art, and known to some as, well, that French film about two young lesbians having lots of sexy times, Blue Is The Warmest Colour is most definitely one of those things. As for the other two tags, I personally didn’t find it extraordinary, but I certainly hope that more people check it out for more than just the oft-mentioned erotic content. This is not just a film about two females falling in love, and lust, with one another. This is a film about a girl becoming a woman. Not in the cheesy, trailer tagline, sense. It’s a nicely done sketch of a transitional phase. A traditional tale at heart, the content may be more graphic than some but this is still just an extended version of any “Love is . . . . ” slogan you care to stick on it.

Adele Exarchopoulos plays Adele, a young girl who doesn’t know what she’s missing, but just knows that she’s missing it. She develops a relationship with a handsome young lad (Thomas, played by Jeremie Laheurte), but it doesn’t really satisfy her. During a night out with a friend named Valentin (Sandor Funtek) that leads her into a gay bar or two, Adele meets blue-haired Emma (Lea Seydoux) and starts to feel an instant connection. The rest of the movie shows the difficulties that Adele faces as she accepts her sexuality, throws herself fully into a loving relationship at such a young age, and then struggles to deal with insecurities and complexities that crop up in the relationship.

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The two lead performances are the main draw here, with both girls excelling in their roles. Exarchopoulos matures notably between the start of the movie and the end, but always struggles to become comfortable in the life that she grows into. Seydoux is more assured, for the most part, but rarely seems patronising as she helps her younger lover to bloom. The scenes of lovemaking are full of passion and tenderness, and somehow manage to avoid being completely gratuitous while being so graphic and drawn out. Personally, I felt that the main scenes featuring the two girls making love could have been condensed down to about half the time, but maybe I am missing the point. Perhaps the drawn out nature of these scenes also helped to show just how much MORE satisfied and happy they are compared to anyone having a quickie with someone that they’re not fully in love with. The rest of the cast do well, but the movie belongs to the two female leads, and rightly so.

While I don’t love it as much as many other people, Blue Is The Warmest Colour does a good job of studying an intense relationship and looking at how people grow (grow up, grow into roles, grow together, grow apart, grow in confidence, etc.). Director Abdellatif Kechiche (who co-wrote the script with Ghalia Lacroixe, adapting from the comic book by Julie Maroh, and then asked the actresses to improvise a lot of the scenes) does a decent job. He packs in plenty of dialogue and moments that make the film worthy of viewing, and he lets the characters discuss some philosophies, both ancient and modern, without ever letting things teeter over into pretentiousness. The film never really drags, despite the fact that it runs for three hours. Mind you, I think the same story could have been told in 2/3 of the time.

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Blue Is The Warmest Colour landed on DVD here in the UK on 17th March. The extras include a couple of deleted scenes, with one including some more erotic content, and separate interviews with director Abdellatif Kechiche and actress Adele Exarchopoulos. Neither interview is particularly engrossing, but I suppose they’re better than nothing.

DIRECTOR: ABDELLATIF KECHICHE
WRITER: ABDELLATIF KECHICHE, GHALIA LACROIXE, ADAPTED FROM THE COMIC BOOK BY JULIE MAROH
STARS: ADELE EXARCHOPOULOS, LEA SEYDOUX, SANDOR FUNTEK, JEREMIE LAHEURTE
RUNTIME: 179 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: FRANCE/BELGIUM/SPAIN

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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