Blue Is The Warmest Color Reviews
The movie follows her from her teens where she is dating boys, but becomes fixated on one blue haired girl she sees on the street and then later meets in a gay bar.
Then we follow Adele and Emma as their relationship progresses and then eventually fails.
A warning, there is a lot of sex, so if you are uncomfortable with nudity onscreen, probably this is not a good choice. ********spoiler***************
I admit I found the ending somewhat depressing - mostly Emma's reasons for the choice she made. Though it was a mature and thoughtful decision, the romantic in me felt that these girls belonged together even though Adele also made some poor choices.
However, it is true to life, and this is a choice many people make in real life. Head over heart.
Adele Exarchopoulos's face is one of the most expressive I've seen on an actress in a very long time. She has the capability of rendering an entire film's worth of character motivation and contradiction in a single close-up, and her leading lady, Lea Seydoux, is a fitting and remarkable complement.The performances in Blue Is the Warmest Color are the highlights of the film, and to watch this acting master class is a thrill in and of itself.
The story isn't much to write about. A woman tries men, falls for a woman, the relationship encounters difficulty, the end. It's all as one might predict, but that doesn't mean that the variances of individuality don't give the film a vitality and spark that is absent from many modern-day romances.
Overall, good acting is sometimes enough to make a good film.
Blue Is the Warmest Color is as amazing a film experience, as I have seen in a long time. As far as the controversy that surrounds the film goes, it really doesn't matter. We're at such a point, where you'd think sexual material, no matter how graphic is no big deal. Obviously there's a lot of people who feel differently, but oh well. This is probably the best film I've ever seen, when it comes down to showing honest emotion, both joy and sadness. A lot of that has to do with the remarkable performance from Adele Exarchopoulos.
Blue Is the Warmest Color follows Adele, a bright and beautiful high school student. Her friends are pressuring her to lose her virginity to a senior who has his eyes on her. On her way to a date with him, she sees a blue haired girl and it's love at first sight, only she doesn't really know it yet. The blue haired girl ends up making an appearance in her dreams that night though. She continues to see the boy and does lose her virginity to him, but that only makes her realize that she hasn't truly found what she needs. She ends up running into the blue haired girl again, at a lesbian bar, and learns that her name is Emma. They hit it off and soon start a passionate love affair. From there, it follows their relationship for about the next decade.
This is a long movie, around three hours, but it sure doesn't feel it. The dialogue is beautiful, as is the camera work, and the movie as a whole. It's about connection, love, and finding ones sexual identity. The beauty of the film is in the relationship between Adele and Emma, and both actresses give phenomenal, honest, and emotional performances. Lea Seydoux, who plays Emma, is tremendous, but like I said before this movie really belongs to Adele.
Blue Is the Warmest Color certainly isn't a movie for the close minded or for moviegoers that are turned off by graphic sexual scenes and dialogue. For anyone who can put that aside and look at the movie for what it truly is, a masterpiece and one of the best films about love ever; it's quite the experience. It's a movie that won't leave me. Simply amazing.
There's no doubt that Blue is the warmest color (La Vie d'Adèle - Chapitres 1 et 2) was controversial even before its première. If at that time I already thought that the Palme d'Or was a political choice - Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg denies it, of course - after watching Abdellatif Kechiche's film, no doubts are left. The award was followed and celebrated mainly on social networks, with the film being praised by thousands of people who came to watch it only months later. Groupthink, something common within the public, has become also a constant feature within the critic, pretty much unanimous in their praise. It's known that film festivals are not parameter of quality anymore, but it's still expected that a film will be acclaimed for something else besides ideological and political views and long shots of graphic sex and nudity, which, by the way, reminds me of Shame, although Steve McQueen's film has a more interesting background. We must also mention Stranger by the Lake - winner of Cannes 2013's Queer Palm Award and Un Certain Regard (Best Director)-, a film really worthy of polemics, however, innovative and thought-provoking.
Based on Julie Maroh's comic book Le Bleu Est Une Couleur Chaud (Blue is a warm color), that covers the (around) fourteen years since Clémentine (Adèle) and Emma meet until the melodramatic final shot, Blue is the warmest color is more like a cheap soap opera praised as masterpiece. While Maroh's comic book focus on coming out, prejudice, doubts and fears, Kechiche insists that he had nothing militant to say about it and was only telling the story of a couple. Maroh actually echoes him saying that none of them had a militantly activist intent, but if you make a book hoping to no longer be insulted, rejected, beaten up, raped and murdered for being gay, you do have a militantly activist intent. Perhaps that was not the film's aim, however, if an absurd but turning point scene from the book was not included, Adèle's friends' homophobic reaction, the gay pride scene and the "lesbian sex for Dummies" could've also been removed. If such scenes were kept is because homosexuality, albeit quite in vogue, is obviously still not widely accepted, with no place, therefore, to the simplistic speech of "a couple like any other." Or maybe, and I bet all my chips there, given the media coverage received by the film, it's just one more "lesbian chic product", because if homosexuality is portrayed in a natural way somehow, the sex scenes are so laughable that one is sure Kechiche made his homework: lots and lots of lesbian porn and corny romance (there were even candles in the room. candles!). It's true that Maroh narrates Clémentine and Emma's first time in five pages, and that's her fault if Kechiche's "imagination" goes too far - "I want to do everything with you. Everything that is possible to be done in a life time", says Clémentine to Emma - but if in the comic book the scenes are exciting, in the film is the opposite.
"You don't find it a pain a director explaining it all? When a director makes me over-analyze a scene or a character, showing everything, it closes off my imagination. I don't like it".
Sometimes tender (Donna Deitch's Desert Hearts), sometimes hot (Zero Chou's Spider Lilies), sometimes "explicit" (Chantal Akerman's Je tu il elle), cinema's history is filled with beautiful scenes of love and sex between two women. We could claim that a woman understand it better, but let's not forget the terrible The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, and the delicate 80 egunean, written and directed by José Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño, not to mention Lukas Moodysson's Fucking Åmål, one of the best lesbian coming-of-age films, Lianna, Egymásra nézve, Bound and so many other lesbian films directed by men. Much has been said about Kechiche's fetishism as something exclusively male, but if today Blue is the Warmest Color is the apple of the eyes and the enfant terrible of the time, three years ago was The Kids Are All Right the one raising warm (for) and exalted (against) criticism. Apparently so distant - a lesbian and a straight director - what brings these two films together is, indeed, the male gaze: a heterosexual and sexist view of the feminine. This discussion, by the way, reminds me of John Cassavetes's explanation for the lack of sex scenes in his work, which films can be considered rather sexist by some people:
"I'm concerned about the depiction of women on the screen. It has gotten worse than ever. It's related to their being either high- or low-class concubines, and the only question is when or where they will go to bed and with whom and how many. (...) As for showing the sexual act in film, I think that's a lot of balls, phony, exploitative and commercial. It's cheap voyeurism and I think there's too damned much of it now anyway. (...) Playboy magazine, tit films and cocktail-party diatribes have not only affected our society but have shaped it with such discontent regarding men and women that sex is no longer in itself sufficient without violence, death or neurosis as stimulants. I don't think there's aznything morally wrong with seeing a nude body on the screen, but it offends me to watch people kiss without genuine love or passion. Sex on the screen bores me."
It's known that Maroh and so many other lesbians didn't like Kechiche's "aesthetic approaches", but for me, not only the "so-called lesbian sex" was "brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold which turned into porn", but the whole picture. It's not Adèle that is voracious, Kechiche is; voracious, methodical and perfectionist. I can even imagine him shouting: "Adèle, lift that ass up!" Or, who knows, maybe measuring the lens'angle of view (i.e. Kechiche's thing for rear ends). As perfectly said by sociologist and gay activist Marie-Hélène Bourcier, the girl number of straight porn movies, where two girls go down on each other while waiting for a man to join them, is almost more honest, once the device is clear: a true voyeur shoots for guys. In Kechiche's case, she says , even if his thing is not wide open pussy (very pornovulgus), but nasal mucus and Adèle's gaping mouth, the voyeur device is present through its "cock camera" eager to close-ups. Indeed, his (oni) presence is so palpable that sometimes we have the impression of watching a ménage à trois not only sexual but also "intellectual", with Kechiche always standing out and offering the real pleasure: there are many artistic and literary references - Sartre , Francis Ponge , Choderlos de Laclos and Marivaux , whose novel La Vie de Marianne is a reference to the film's French title - however, Adèle's has a shallow depth (deeply shallow would be the right expression, but the photography technique shallow depth of field that consists in isolating "part of the shot which is nicely in focus while throwing elements in the background - and sometimes the foreground - out of focus and into a lovely blur" is exactly what Kechiche does in his film).
Although Maroh is ok with the fact that Kechiche's heroin has a personality far from hers and thinks that what "he developed is coherent, justified and fluid", I think that turning Clémentine into a dull, monosyllabic and vulgar (bad table manners and so on) Adèle was his most brutal move. The world is full of bestsellers, alright, but Adèle loves to read, likes Kubrick and Scorsese, and doesn't know what Fine Arts are? Not to mention that Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele are not Picasso, but they are still quite known. Her bad manners, along with her lack of culture, far from representing certain voracity, show an exaggerated picture of the (simplistic, but good) working class in opposition to the (liberal, but "mean") intellectual/ high class, a point of view that is already quite clear in the selection of the leading actresses: Léa Seydoux, granddaughter of the Chairman of Pathé, "comes from an extremely wealthy, bourgeois, very comfortable milieu", while Adèle Exarchopoulos "comes from something that is definitely much more modest". Just by seeing some photos of the cast and watching the trailer, I knew that Adèle Exarchopoulos and Kechiche's Adèle were the same person. It's not a surprise to read that he chose her for the role after seeing her eating a lemon tarte, or to see, in interviews, that she speaks and behaves just like her character does. Kechiche opts for naturalism/realism, but more interesting and challenging would be to put the actresses in the opposite roles. One of the strongest points of the film, this social discourse could bring up an interesting discussion if not build on so many clichés. Nonetheless, like Boris says in Woody Allen's "Whatever Works", "sometimes a cliché is finally the best way to make one's point" and Kechiche sure does it showing how sexism is part of the gay community as well: Adèle, that has a "minor" job and a poor intellect is the good and helpful (house) wife; Lise, a cultured painter, but a mom and a femme, probably "cooks for Emma when she gets home at night and gives her flowers in the morning". The butch-femme relationship, an undeniable mirror of heterosexual relationships, usually perpetuates the so discussed stereotypes of male/female's roles.
Perhaps I am becoming too much demanding or too much bitter, but although Léa Seydoux is very convincing as a lesbian, I didn't see anything fantastic about the performances. If the ending is painful, it is not because of Adèle Exarchopoulos's good acting, but because one can relate to such heartbreak. Loving is painful, growing old is hard, and we all know about it.
- You don't love me anymore.
- (no)... But I have infinite tenderness for you. I always will.
* The burden of first love and Adèle's inability to move on slightly reminds me of Mia Hansen-Løve's film "Goodbye First Love".
Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a normal 17-year old girl trying to gather a sense of her self. Her peers are pressuring her to lose her virginity with a popular guy, but it's another person, a mysterious blue-haired lass, that Adele can't stop thinking about. This woman, the somewhat older Emma (Lea Seydoux) is an art student and an out lesbian. One night, Adele follows her into a lesbian bar and they strike up a friendship, one that quickly translates into something more romantic. Over the rest of the movie, we cover several years of Adele and Emma's lives together and learn that each has left an indelible mark on the other, for good and bad.
Let's tackle the portion that's gotten the most coverage in the media, the graphic sex sequences that earned the film the rare stateside NC-17 rating. You may have thought 2011's sex addict drama, Shame, earned its NC-17 rating, but Blue trounces it. Short of unsimulated sex scenes in movies like Shortbus and 9 Songs, I doubt many audience members have experienced sex sequences this explicit and this lengthy (you may start checking your watch at some point). At its Cannes premier, the critical response breathlessly hyped a sexual encounter that went on for 18 minutes. That number may be the total onscreen copulation time; the longest sex scene is seven minutes or so, but you do feel the vigorous extension. Is there a particular reason the steamy sex scenes needed to be this long or this graphic? Kechiche likely wanted to communicate an explosion of immeasurable passion unlike anything Emma or Adele will experience in their lives. But did this need to be communicated with seven minutes of orgasmic fingers, lips, and tongues exploring every crevice of their bodies? Would six minutes of enthusiastic sex prove insufficient? I'd be a hypocrite if I said I found little entertainment in watching Exarchopoulos and Seydoux clinging to one another's sweaty naked bodies, entwined ever so passionately. I just don't think the film demanded as much drawn out sex when the drama is this strong.
And that's the mass appeal blurb when it comes to Blue is the Warmest Color: come for the intensity of the sex, stay for the intensity of the feelings. You will swiftly feel the nervousness and sexual tension that comes from the exploration of attraction. All those high school butterflies come fluttering back. The depth of feeling is easily relatable. The characters are searching for unparalleled human connection but also discovering more about who they are. This is a moving, absorbing, and crushing love story, but it's just as much about two people falling out of love. That was a major surprise for me. What's more is that the forces behind their breakup are completely understandable and you can see them coming; at heart, they are two different people that operate in different worlds, and they do change over time. That's excellent storytelling when one can feel for both sides of a breakup, comprehend how this moment arrived, and looking back, see how inevitable a conflict like this would be. Emma's sphere of friends is one that Adele does not feel a comfortable place within. Emma worries that Adele needs to find a sense of identity outside their relationship. Adele is still too timid to admit the truth about her relationship with a woman to her colleagues and family. These are major conflicts and they simmer and gestate in ways that feel like real life. Beyond some of the specifics in the bedroom (more on that later), there isn't a moment that feels unbelievable in the entire three hours. This is a naturalistic love story that unfolds in small waves, allowing us to get to know the characters and their lives.
The two actresses are outstanding and bare much more than their flesh for this film. Exarchopoulos and Seydoux disappear into their characters. These are richly developed characters, and each actress does her best to bring them to startling life. Exachopoulos (who looks like a Parisian Maggie Grace) has so much of the film riding on her 19-year-old shoulders since her character is the film's major point of view; we often see the world through her perspective. She's excellent as the curious, anxious, bashful young woman, and her encounters with Emma open her world up, allowing Adele to broaden as a person. She's still not confidant, given to doubts that Emma seems to lack, but Exarchopoulos convinces you of the difference. Every step along her journey is credible, acted with poise, even the uncontrolled weeping. In a just world, this French newcomer would be up for serious acting award consideration. Seydoux is the more assured character, the one who sizes up her interest, but when hurt, the ferocity of Emma's fury is staggering. This is not a woman to scorn, and Adele will learn this the hard way. Later in the film, as the history hangs in the air between Emma and Adele, we get a powerful sense of how conflicted both women are, having never turned off their feelings but trapped by circumstance and consequences. You feel each member cycle through the myriad of emotions, fumbling between desire and desperation. The actresses work together beautifully, raising one another's performance, and giving one another the environment to get truly intimate, emotionally and physically.
Allow me to wade into some awkward territory and address some questions I have with the logistics of the graphic lesbian sex scenes. Now I have never been a lesbian but I am friends with a few, though I have never interrogated them on the subject's specifics because, well, that would be weird. With that said, I'm fairly certain that there are several positions and sequences between Adele and Emma that defy reality and, more so, practicality. For the more timid readers, please skip to the next paragraph. Much has been made about the breathy, energetic sexual activity on display, but some of it is just baffling. First off, I'm pretty certain that scissoring is not a terribly drawn out and essential part of lesbian lovemaking. Again, not having the equipment in discussion, I do believe that forcibly mashing one's gentials, unsheathed, for long periods, against another harder surface is probably asking for some rug burns (I suppose this could work the same way for either gender). Then there are incidents like Emma's head placement when it comes to performing cunnilingus. Rather than having Adele lie on her back, she instead lies flat on her stomach and Emma shoves her face into Adele's rear. She doesn't need to take the scenic route; there is a shortcut that works far better.
There is a larger point in my rehashing of the prurient details in Blue, and that is chiefly that the film is more a representation of a man's fantasy of lesbian sex. The male gaze, a term referred to often in feminist film criticism, is trenchant in this film. Kechiche's camera doesn't just love his two young stars; it fawns over them, lusts over them. The camera is always within inches of Adele's face, glued to tight shots lingering over Exarchopoulos's pouty lips. Seriously, the actress has her mouth open the entire movie, her lips forever pillowy, forever pouting. It's a sensual movie, yes, but does every shot of young Adele need to be so tawny and voyeuristic, her hair always slightly askew in her face, her body positioned just so that her assets are featured? Critics like Dargis are correct about Kechiche's fawning camera pushing over into the boundary of erotic fetishism. This is where my questioning of sexual positioning comes back; going ass backwards when it comes to cunnilingus (and yes, I will intend that pun) is aesthetically pleasing in a sensuous manner, and that feels like the dictum of Kechiche's intimate camerawork. It's heterosexual male pleasure represented on screen, at least in its depiction. Otherwise, with the camera always tethered inches away from Adele's face, why don't we remain focused on her face during all this physical pleasure? It can be just as erotic. However, with all that out there, why can't lesbian sex be given the same ridiculous fantasy depictions of heterosexual sex in the movies? I can almost guarantee that pool tables are not a prime location for indulging one's urges. And just showcasing lesbian sex onscreen between a committed couple (not just girl-on-girl flings like in Black Swan) and normalizing it, whatever intention, is a virtue.
But it's not just the sex scenes that could use some judicious snipping; the entire three-hour enterprise could be easily consolidated. The film is replete with loping scenes that sort of drift along, recreating the ordinary rhythms of life rather than the plot beat connect-the-dots we associate with most film narratives. That's fine, you need time to establish characters and setting, but do we need people interpreting poetry at length and indulging in gender philosophy for minutes on end? Perhaps if I watched Blue is the Warmest Color a second time I'd be more tolerable of the narrative bloat, finding added subtext and metaphor to all those ponderous philosophical discussions over the nature of the self and gender identity. Of course seeing a three-hour movie, again, is going to take a significant time commitment.
Sensual throughout, beautifully developed, richly observed, and brought to life with bristling and audacious acting, Blue is the Warmest Color is a love story that hits hard with emotional force. By nicely realizing the characters, providing them depth and fallibility, we can empathize with them along the different stops of their romantic journey, seeing where each is coming from and understanding the yearning, frustration, and passion. When things are good, there's a frisson on screen, a palpable sense of desire accentuated by Kechiche's loving (and occasionally obsessive/fetishized) camerawork. The acting by Exarchopoulos and Seydoux is as raw and fevered as their onscreen lovemaking. I doubt it needed to be a full three hours long, and I doubt the notorious NC-17-earning sex scenes needed to be as graphic to communicate delight, but I'm most pleased that Blue is offering a full movegoing experience, watching the formation of two characters over time and how they change. It's easily watchable even during its more ponderous, dare I say French-y, sidesteps. The ending is a slight misstep, calling out for greater certainty, but the French title for the film was, Adele: Chapters 1 & 2, the implication being there may be future cinematic adventures that await these people. I don't know if this will ever come to fruition considering the original graphic novel by Julie Maroh is a mere 160 pages, rather shrift considering the medium, but I can hope. Romances this involving, observant, and intense don't come around too often and deserve to be cherished. Just consider the sex a bonus.
Nate's Grade: A-
This isn't to call the second half generic or unfocused - on the contrary, it serves to demonstrate the transcendence of love and sexuality beyond gender. At times I worry that the film will have a preaching-to-the-choir effect, in that it serves as proof of the relative 'normality' of lesbian relationships, but I don't think many people who don't already understand this fact (anti-gay viewers or worse, homophobes) would be willing to spend three hours on a movie that has become known first and foremost because of its graphic lesbian sex scenes. However, "Blue is the Warmest Color" still serves as an absolutely stunning and (to use this word again, because it bears repeating for a film such as this) transcendent affirmation of the power of shared emotions.
More can be said about the film than I feel I could even attempt to say: Adele Exarchopoulos gives a performance for the ages, literally - she ages and transforms over the course of the film so gradually yet strikingly that at times it seems as though the film was actually shot over the course of many years. It's a borderline miraculous performance, brought even higher by the fact that her chemistry by acting partner Lea Seydoux feels so real. The only downside (which will be a considerable boundary to many) is the 3 hour runtime, which is arguably necessary but definitely felt. In addition, the film also lacks payoff, as is common for art films of this kind. While I am fine with that ambiguity in the main plotline, some of the smaller threads that could have benefitted from some sort of finality also never get brought back again, which is arguably more annoying.
On the other hand, these loose threads did lead to one of the main takeaways of the film. In the last half-hour, I kept thinking the film was about to end, but it continues on. At some point, having sat for so long in this theater, I got the strange sensation that perhaps, impossibly, the film would never end. This is the true transcendent magic of the film -- in a way, since the film captures a certain essence of humanity so well, it really doesn't ever end. The spirit of the film and the essence of the characters live on forever, outside of the theater, and within the viewer. "Blue is the Warmest Color" isn't always a masterpiece, but when it is at its best, it feels like something more than just a masterpiece.
The close-ups that seem to make up the majority of the film keep the rest of the world out of focus, heightening the intimacy and mirroring Adele's thoughts, showing the impact one person can have on wholly consuming your life. Especially as a young girl discovering her sexuality and first love. Exarchopoulos' inquisitive, always-observing eyes and half-smiles are a treat. The girl sure knows how to shed a tear too.
The shifts in time feel completely necessary, ending on a hopeful note that Adele has made it through the pain. The 3 hours flew by, and I could follow the character for several more.
While "Blue Is the Warmest Color" is definitely erotic and sexually graphic, it has more to say on the subject of relationships than most other movies and how they are more than being skin deep, about sex or just seeing your partner naked. To that end, director Abdellatif Kechiche takes his time in telling a thoughtful and multilayered coming of age story while also again showing his flair for epic banquet scenes. To be specific, it is about somebody who like many of her age is awkward, sensitive and insecure(and maybe more considering her junk food stash), aided by an excellent performance from Adele Exarchopoulos in the lead. Even as she grows older, Adele is a character who remains somewhat haunted by past teasing at the playground. In that case, the movie finds the perfect moment to come to a truly satisfying conclusion while deftly avoiding expectations.