Blue is The Warmest Color | Film Review



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I'll admit, I'd never seen a French film before September, when I watched Amélie for the first (and last) time. I've shied away from the genre of French cinema; it seemed to me like this other world, an endless well of alluring accents and films that seem to be far above my own intellectual level.
   I'm a complete newbie to foreign film, used to the standard blockbuster in which American and a lot of British industry films reside. I know, I'm a film student, for Pete's sake. I was sceptical and apprehensive, entirely because of a possibly imaginary stigma around French cinema: bankrupt in plot, and heavily featuring smoking and pretentious one-liners. I was wrong. 
   If you're like how I was, forget the idea that your teenage brain is inadequate to fully appreciate the art. Blue grabbed my attention for the full three hours for a number of reasons, and this film is unlike any other I've seen.

To summarize, Blue (based off the graphic novel 'Le bleu est une couleur chaude'), our protagonist - Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) - is a junior in high school, a lover of literature with her solid group of friends. Upon meeting older art school girl Emma (Léa Seydoux), their exhilarating connection develops.
   Everything about this film is endearing and magical. It rose far above my fairly favourable expectations. I'm in awe of the lack of makeup artists: Adele only wearing the slightest hint of make up when she and Emma have broken up. It's stripped down and real, abandoning Hollywood's idea of "makeup that doesn't look like the actress is wearing any" (which it totally does).
   Immediately we are submerged into Adele's world, through a jagged and muted opening sequence in which we find ourselves subconsciously concentrated on Adele. This sets the tone for the rest of the film. Kechiche adopts lingering shots of her in conversation and in silence, always catching up with her movement. In the midst of these close-ups we never miss Adele's little quirks, from her mischievous smile to the way her lips part when distracted.
   There's this intoxicating relationship between not only Adele and Emma, but Adele in her natural environment, which are also quiet but from subtleties like birds chirping and leaves rustling.

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   At her birthday party, during Lykke Li's "I Follow Rivers," there are a few precious seconds I will reference forever, when Adéle appears to lose herself in the music, moving with a freedom and liberty that contrasts her guarded persona in the majority of the film. Her being the core focus of the shots blend out the other figures and distractions with the music's volume high, so we're transfixed on her dancing.
   Avoiding the eye-rolls of my calling myself a 'film buff,' I value the authenticity of the script and dialogue, and I found no fault with Blue. It captures the brutality of teenagers, harsh and unforgiving in their questioning of Adele's sexuality. 
   Equally, Adele is enraptured by the almost third main character of the film: food. From spaghetti bolognese to oysters, food is the element which help people connect. Spaghetti, a fairly working class dish, reoccurs throughout the film, symbolizing the lower class status of Adele and her family, but also the familiarity of her home, heightening the sense of her exploring new parts of herself when she tries oysters with Emma and her parents. The camera settles on Adele's mouth when she eats, shots so long they become somewhat awkward. These unsexy parts are made sexy by Adele alone, with her open-mouthed, noisy chewing which is present almost as much as Adele is.

The only issue I have with the film is the seven minute sex scene, which undoubtedly was a male fantasy porno. You see everything, although I later learnt they used prosthetic vaginas. Author of the graphic novel described it as "A brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex." Maybe actual lesbians should have played the lesbians, but it seemed the director cared little about the effects of the somewhat ridiculous sex for a fifteen year=old girl. At the same time though, I think the often-complained-about length added realness; the frustrated mangling of limbs felt rousing and authentic. Not necessarily aiming to epitomize lesbian sex, but rather to visualize the intensity of the lovers or of soulmates.
   The story reminded me of everything The Fault In Our Stars failed to do. This relationship felt natural, raw and plucked from the heartstrings of the director, capturing the essence of the feelings of love and heartbreak that I've never experienced, but made me feel like I had.

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