"Blue is the Warmest Color" Review: Craig's First Take

Photo Credit: © 2013 - Sundance Selects

Usually most foreign films never land this loudly. But most aren’t a 3 hour movie about a lesbian romance, most have not had both the movie and the actresses included in the winning of the Palme d’or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and most have not had the controversial production allegations of harassment, long hours on set, and violation of labor laws thrown at their director. Yes, “Blue is the Warmest Color” has come into U.S theaters very loudly. But just wait til you see this French film.

Adele Exarchopoulos gives the best performance by an actress (period) this year as Adele, a shy 19-year old High School girl who feels like there is something missing when she has sex with a guy at school. Early on we see her take an interest in a blue-haired lesbian she eyes on the street and even though she can talk music and literature with Thomas, the blue-haired girl is what excites her sexually. Blue is actually Emma (Lea Seydoux, also just terrific here), an older fine arts student interested in painting.

This is not a movie that deals with the intolerance of homosexuality or what it’s like to be a lesbian. It’s about wanting to explore that piece of yourself you know is there (which lands her in the same gay club as Emma) while still dealing with the awkwardness of youth. Timidity, uncertainty, loneliness, feeling out-of-place, not knowing exactly what you want out of life. Emma becomes her teacher in love but its Adele’s conflicting feelings that resonate most. This is so complex yet we can read Exarchopoulos perfectly in every scene.

“Blue” is actually based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, and even she has criticized the sex scenes as “ridiculous”, “porn”, and the film goes against her feminist beliefs. The sex scenes are graphic and if you’ve ever wondered about real lesbian sex they’re also pretty damn “informative”, but to say this film is anti-feminist is pretty silly. The women here are portrayed as uniquely cultured people, there is a real intellectual charge to their conversations, and really all of it centers on their personal growth. That the film doesn’t shy away from the passionate sex of this relationship only reinforces the intense attraction between the two women.

Director Abdellatif Kechiche has been sniped at so much but does it mean anything that what he achieves feels so incredibly real, so intensely romantic, and identifiable? Last week “About Time” tried to preach life lessons to us without ever really getting its hands dirty. “Blue” might be a bit too long but there is no denying that it packs one hell of a walloping romance on you.