Earlier this year at Cannes, the festival’s jury, lead by Steven Spielberg, were the first to start a wave of buzz for Blue Is the Warmest Colour. Awarded with the Palm d’or, it was decided not only to present director Abdellatif Kechiche with the trophy, but also its main leads, Adèle Exarchopoulous and Léa Seydoux.
With its release, Blue has attracted insurmountable attention and controversy surrounding its filming process and content, but the result is instead a piece of work that defies all the press stories outside of it. The 191-minute film begins as a coming-of-age story and is soon an intense, emotional yet convincingly touching film.
Despite what seems to be a lesbian love story at its core, Blue does not jump into its central story with alacrity nor exaggerates it for any effect. The film slowly documents the main character of Adèle’s life in detail. A series of close-ups of the protagonist creates an intimacy with the character, whilst also representing the circle of safety she has around herself. It is only later, upon discovering love, that Adèle steps out of this frame of girlfriend gossips and schoolground smoking to receive what the outer world has to give.
What she finds is Emma, a blue-haired art student with inexplicable charm, which makes Adèle fall for her from the first moment they meet eyes. She gradually becomes Emma’s friend, lover and flatmate. The film unveils the question of love in its most complex yet simple approach. The view does not shy away from the protagonist’s life, bringing in all the details in her and Emma’s casual talks, their visits to each other’s family and sexual encounters. Some scenes can be difficult to watch, daring and stretched but only to the point of keeping close with its protagonist of Adèle. Throughout the sequences, the audience goes with her on her journey to adulthood. The intimacy gives another layer to the emotion portrayed in the film, making it hard for us not to yearn for Adèle’s happy ending.
Yet Blue, in painting its portrait of the protagonist through the years, does not make any promises. Its love story, or rather stories, are played out with full beauty and realism, the characters most unique and memorable, but as the film’s original, French title suggests, this is only the first and second chapters of Adèle’s life. What further goes on is up to us to imagine, our own empathy having been poured into her story.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is certainly a tour de force, from the acting to storytelling. Seydoux is convincingly mysterious and gives a splendid portrayalof Emma. The star of the film, nevertheless,is Exarchopoulous. Her natural and committed acting is what renders her character not only a name, but a life lived on-screen. Adèle in the film grows from 15 to her early twenties, and what the actress portrays is a thousand aspects of life itself.
Whatever the controversy about Kechiche’s directing method, the crafts he brings together in the film are purely and realistically perfect.