First love. Tenacious. Audacious. Intense. Brutal. For Adèle, it’s the last thing on her mind. A young woman in the final years of high school, she seems adrift. When she crosses paths with the older, openly gay Emma, her universe is thrown upside down.
I saw this film on the opening night of French Cinema Now, a part of the 2013 SIFF series designed to bring French cinema to Seattle. I waited in the crisp October night air for close to an hour, watching as the line outside the theatre began to amass. First along the front wall. Then down the side. Then around the corner. It was clear something remarkable was getting ready to happen and the cinema-loving folk of Seattle wanted to be in on it.
That was over a week ago. I haven’t so much as spoken a word about the film, not even to my girlfriend. The truth is, I’m still in a daze.
If Gravity is the best film made in the States this year (and I’m saying it is), then Blue is the Warmest Color is hands down the best foreign language feature. There. My 2013 Oscar predictions are on record.
After enduring the three hour film, I left SIFF Uptown in tears, an emotional wreck, thinking “what the hell just happened to me?” I wandered back to my car and sat there, knowing I still had to drive home – more than 60 miles, and it was late. I’d been up since 5 am and it was nearing 11 pm. I was stunned, just absolutely floored. I felt high and depressed – what a combination!
As anyone who has just seen Blue is the Warmest Color will probably confirm, the film has a tendency to evoke an emotional rawness, regardless of your sexual orientation, that dogs you long after the film has ended. This intensity certainly helped the film gain attention, but its power and passion could not exist without the undeniable onscreen chemistry between its leads: Exarchopoulos and Seydoux.
Rarely seen in any recent film, the relationship between the two projects a tangible, palpable genuineness that will positively command your attention for 180 minutes. The director (and yes, I’m aware of – but refuse to speculate on – the crew’s misgivings with Kechiche) takes every moment of screentime to forge an almost too-real embodiment of the characters.
By the end, and we all know first loves usually come to an end, Adèle’s heartache may very well be your own. This is why we applaud the film as a critical success. But the truth is, the reason why audiences seem to be buzzing about Blue is the Warmest Color is because when it comes to sex, we’re all still curious kids deep down.
And that’s okay. At least by me. I celebrate depictions of sex onscreen when they tell us something about the character that cannot be told in any other way. Here are a few reasons why I think Blue is the Warmest Color got it right:
1.) Everyone involved is acting. There’s not enough Tequila in the world that would make me forget someone can watch me pretending “sexy time” in a film … forever. It takes dedication, courage, and an amazing commitment to your craft to pull off what Seydoux and Exarchopoulos have done. I know it’s been said, but there’s a reason … because it’s true and startling how real it feels.
2.) I kept thinking – are those real? And apparently they’re not. Ten long days of crafting the film’s incredibly graphic sex scenes must have been torture – especially because the actresses are actually hitting one another – but the scenes are ESSENTIAL. The way the characters completely lose themselves in one another with absolute abandon sets the tone for Adèle’s entire character arc.
3.) This is not a “lesbian” film. Yes, the central relationship is between two women, but it’s not the only relationship depicted in the film. Blue is the Warmest Color is probably one of the more bisexually friendly films I’ve seen in years, and for a segment of the LGBT community that is fairly underrepresented, that makes the film a veritable gem.
Yes, I have read the graphic novel “Blue Angel” by Julie Maroh and while I applaud Maroh for her lyrical work, Blue is the Warmest Color is its own animal, if you will. If you haven’t checked it out, it is a great companion piece (different, but the same) to the film but having never read it will not hinder you. In the slightest.
Love it, hate it, crave it – Blue is the Warmest Color has raised the bar for LGBT cinema worldwide. The storytelling is lyrical and poignant, with an intensity that extends beyond the sexual. The film is worth traveling to see in the cinema if you’re lucky enough to find a screening. Otherwise, it looks like we can expect it on DVD sometime in 2014.
Official site: Blue is the Warmest Color
Official UK Trailer:
On a Bench, in the Sun & I am NOT a Lesbian: