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Film Review: 'Blue Is The Warmest Color'

Janet Lee |
October 22, 2013 | 1:14 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Adele Exarchopoulus as Adele and Lea Seydoux as Emma in "Blue is the Warmest Color" (IFC Films).
Adele Exarchopoulus as Adele and Lea Seydoux as Emma in "Blue is the Warmest Color" (IFC Films).
“The only vice of law is gravity,” Adele’s literature teacher states in Director Abdellatif Kechiche's much anticipated and controversial “Blue is the Warmest Color.”

This film is a poignant and moving piece that explores sexual awakening, love, and pain in one young woman’s life.

The amount of depth that the film has consumes us with gravity and leaves us feeling refreshed. "Blue" illustrates the harsh duality of euphoria and tragedy that love carries. 

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Adapted from Julie Maroh’s graphic novel “Blue Angel,” the film presents a raw and sincere coming-of-age love story that evokes lust, curiosity, and romance in the most humanistic way possible. Kechiche skillfully blends character, context, and aura together to create a captivating cinematic experience.

The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and received the Palme d'Or.

Eighteen-year-old Adele (Adele Exarchopoulus) is an average teen with average teen problems. Her new romantic relationship with fellow classmate Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte) leaves Adele unhappy and aggravated.

But the missing piece surfaces when she latches eyes with a blue-haired art student, Emma (Lea Seydoux), and encounters her by chance at a lesbian bar. She consumes Adele with passion that pushes her to pursue her desire. The remainder of the film explores their relationship in the span of a decade that involves tensions of social class that creates gravity between the two.  

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Literary themes provide the foundation of the protagonist’s character and her journey. Adele enjoys immersing herself in long, heavy literature that moves in harmony with her own life. Themes of love at first sight, predestination, regret, and tragedy discussed during class foreshadow the coming of fate that opens a new chapter in Adele’s life.  

It’s interesting the way Kechiche portrays youthful lust and liberalism throughout his film. He utilizes food to metaphorically portray Adele’s lust for sensuality. The act of eating is commonly shown throughout the film. Adele devours delicious kebabs, spaghetti, and oysters (that definitely makes mouths water) that Kechiche makes sure to emphasize using close up shots. The way she indulges and fulfills her hunger is synonymous to the way Adele indulges in her newfound sexuality. 

Kechiche evokes youthful angst through public marches and conversations of revolution, intellect, freedom, and fulfillment. It illustrates Adele tearing away from restraints and pursuing her desires.

But social class still exists amongst the laissez-faire nature of youth, which is where the film’s gravity lies. The dynamic relationship between Adele and Emma is quite striking. We can see social class differences from discussions of art and culture to even the types of foods the two indulge in during dinner. Emma’s philosophical avant-garde self indulges on oysters while Adele’s standard working class self indulges on spaghetti. Adele has difficulties with Emma’s high culture ideologies and the best attempt she makes is comparing Sartre with Bob Dylan.

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The character of Adele gracefully consumes the mind and body of youth. The curiosity, confusion, and impulsivity wraps together to create humanistic flaws that we understand and can relate with. Big kudos goes to new and upcoming actress Exarchopoulos. She has a beautifully familiar face that enraptures us. She impressively carries the gravity of the film with delicacy and naturalness that beautifies pain. 

Of course, there are the lengthy and graphic sex scenes that earned the film an NC-17 rating and controversial media buzz. One can’t help but to question the film’s commitment to authenticity during the sex scenes. They are definitely eyebrow-raising, but we can’t necessarily deem them as pornographic.

However, we can take into consideration Laura Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze—how the female body is constructed through the male mind. Because the film was under male direction, the question as to whether the film constructs an authentic view of female sexuality will always be in debate. Moreover, the actresses' public statement regarding abusive working conditions is something more to consider. 

Nonetheless, “Blue is the Warmest Color” carries no redundancies in its three-hour running time. It only absorbs us through its bold naturalness. It’s a raw and painful love story that we can all relate with. The fearlessness that the two actresses put into their performances cannot be praised enough. 

“Blue is the Warmest Color” opens in theaters on October 25th. 

Watch the trailer below.

Reach Staff Reporter Janet Lee here. Follow her on Twitter



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