An intimate and emotional roller coaster about finding yourself and falling in love.
Loosely based on the graphic novel Blue Angel by Julie Maroh, Blue is the Warmest Color is a coming of age film that has captivated audiences across the globe. The story follows a teenager named Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) as she makes her way through her teenage years and tries to figure out who she is and what she wants from life. Along the way, Adele meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), a blue haired rebel, who she becomes instantly infatuated with. The rest of the film focuses on the development of their relationship along with all the laughter, passion, and heartache that one endures while ultimately trying to find themselves.
Blue is the Warmest Color was probably the most talked about film coming out of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The film received rave reviews at the festival and won the Palme d’Or, but it also stirred up some controversy due to the 10 minute extremely graphic sex scene that took place about half way through the film. Needless to say despite the controversy, I was very excited to see the film and was lucky enough to attend the first screening of the film at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.
As a film lover, movie critic, and entertainment journalist, I watch somewhere between 200 to 400 films per year. My favorite type of film is one that is character driven and allows me to feel something towards the characters that I am watching on-screen. With that being said, Blue is the Warmest Color is without a doubt one of the best character study films ever made. It is simple, beautiful, and most importantly, powerful. The film is almost like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy (Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, and Before Midnight) where for the most of the film, you are just watching two people talk to one another. As an audience member you feel like a voyeur watching these lives unfold right in front of your eyes and it feels so incredibly real that you can’t help but get sucked into their lives. I think that is what makes a great character study film and clearly, Blue is Warmest Color blew me away.
The only place to start when talking about Blue is with the performances. I can safely say that I was taken back by how realistic and powerful the two lead performances were in this film. Adèle Exarchopoulos is without a doubt an up and coming actress, who if I had any say at all when it came to award season, I would give her every single award for Best Actress that there is. Yes, her performance is that amazing. To quote my friend and fellow critic, Nick Iacobucci, “the acting in this film should be studied in acting classes across the world, because its that damn good. ” I couldn’t agree more and every thing that Adele is feeling, I felt as an audience member. That really says a lot about a performance and film considering the fact that I am a 31 year old straight man and this movie allowed me to relate and connect with a confused 15 year old lesbian.
As for Adele’s screen partner Léa Seydoux, well she is equally as wonderful. There is a fight scene that takes place about 2 hours into the film that is just heartbreaking. This scene is driven by Seydoux‘s acting and I have to say that just like Exarchopoulos its hard to believe that you are watching acting rather than a real life relationship unfold right in front of your eyes. It also needs to be said that the chemistry between Exarchopoulos and Seydoux is spot on and it only helps drive the film to be even more powerful.
In terms of the film’s directing, there was a lot of rumors that director Abdellatif Kechiche was a real pain in the ass to work with and made the actresses feel ashamed about their work. It was also noted that the film had over 750 hours of footage and took 5 months to make rather than the 2 and a half that were initially planned. All that stuff aside, I think Kechiche did an amazing job with this film. I think what he captured was intimate, beautiful, and real. He uses a ton of up-close shots which makes the film feel really “in your face” but at the same time captures the raw emotions of these characters. These types of shots also created some intimacy with the audience member allowing them to feel as if they are actually a part of the film rather than just the viewer. I can see how many could easily criticize this as amateur film-making but for me it only helped draw me into these character’s lives.
Now, in terms of the sex scene, I honestly felt that it showcased the passion that these characters were feeling and how much they were attracted to one another. I do, however, agree with those who have stated that scene does seem to go on for a bit long and is a bit over the top in terms of what is being shown. However, I also realize that when you are younger that many explore their sexuality and do things that they wouldn’t do when they were older or married. I think some are forgetting that we are watching teenagers and in today’s society, we have become so infatuated with sex that it is such a huge part of our lives. I think Kechiche was showcasing how passionate and powerful sex was to Adele and Emma, even if it was a bit outlandish with the quick editing and multiple positions. Regardless of whether or not, it was a bit too long or a bit too graphic, I can safely say that it played a crucial role in the film and showcased the passion that Emma and Adele felt for one another.
All in all, I absolutely loved Blue is the Warmest Color. I think the film showcases some of the best and rawest performances that I have seen in cinema and it takes a familiar story and makes it completely heartbreaking. The overall film is beautiful, honest, and raw. It is a film that made me feel everything that these characters were feeling and one that left me feeling heartbroken by the time the credits began to role. If you are someone who adores character studies and isn’t afraid of the subject matter, I highly recommend you run out and see Blue is the Warmest Color. It is truly an indie film masterpiece.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Blue is the Warmest Color is a 9.5 out of 10.