Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) (NC-17)

It's impossible to get the stories you've heard out of your head before you go and see "Blue Is the Warmest Color". The controversy flows freely. First or all you have the film's unashamed look at lesbian sex, then you have the Cannes Film Festival giving the movie the prestigious Palme D'Or. That doesn't seem too bad, but the story goes on. Julie Maroh, who created the graphic novel on which the film is based, saw the film and deemed it pornographic trash. She claimed that the film was untruthful in the sex scenes, pleasing the male-dominated world...though, after seeing the movie, I would argue that she was more displeased with how the film ended.
Then minors were let into a screening, then Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos admitted that the director Abdellatif Kechiche asked them to improvise all their sex scenes which took a psychological tole on both of them.
Yet, when I watched the movie, it was no more shocking than art films have been in the past...even "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" was almost as explicit and twice as disturbing. What Kechiche somehow manages to do is to blend the camera and his actresses into one media, it becomes captivating.
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" begins in that terrible place that so many films like to avoid or caricature-ize—highschool. Adèle (Exarchopoulos) is a junior who loves to read. She is a pretty girl who surrounds herself with the "typical" girls...they gossip and flirt. One boy seems keenly interested in Adèle and she has no reason not to give this whole "relationship thing" a try. After going out with him a few times—and, it is implied, losing her virginity with him—she begins to feel that she's putting on a facade.
She confides this in her friend, Valentin, who happens to be gay.
In literature class, we hear her professor talk about love at first sight and the possibility of a heart that's missing something.
While walking out on the street, Adèle sees a mysterious girl with blue hair and the two share a shakes Adèle.
The next few weeks, she breaks things off with her boyfriend and she goes to a gay bay with Valentin. This is a safe place for Adèle, who has begun to realize that she might be different. When her friends confront her about it, she shoots them down and gets angry that they could ask her such questions—they are quite mean about it.
But Adèle is going to have to open to someone...enter Emma (Seydoux), the girl with blue hair. Adèle is entranced by this beauty and she obviously starts falling in love.
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" doesn't judge, how could it? More than feel preachy about its main characters being homosexuals, the film—much like the graphic novel did—objectively sees the characters as people. There is something magical about the way Kechiche moves the characters around...he's telling a story that deals with them, not with plot.
The plot itself is so slight that it could be condensed in a small paragraph, but the characters are so vibrant that the film's daunting three-hour length doesn't phase you at all.
It is a joyous film, an intensely sad film, a romantic film, an unsentimental one.
I did read the graphic novel before I saw the movie and for the first half, the two don't really differ at all. The novel deals more with Adèle's self-hatred at being a lesbian and the movie quietly skips over that part. The movie is much lighter than the book; yet I find that this is nice. The book doesn't have the hope that this movie does...and that is pleasant to see once in a while.
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" can be a bit too much at times, but excess is what the film aspires for. To borrow a line from von Trier : it wants more out of the sunset.
The emotions flow over—the result is intoxicating.
"Blue Is the Warmest Color" is beautiful.

Score: ★★★★

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