Blue is the Warmest Colour (5 stars)

Blue is the Warmest Colour

2013 Cannes Palme d’Or winner an example of exquisite, vital and very brave filmmaking.

Billed as a French lesbian coming-of-age drama, Blue is the Warmest Colour has been mired in controversy since winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes (as much for an invective launched against the film’s director by both main actresses as for the frank depiction of sex between two women). None of which should detract from the fact that the film presents a landmark achievement in its subjective portrayal of the intricacies of female desire, due in no small part to the extraordinary courage and conviction of its two lead actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Related across two chapters, Abdellatif Kechiche’s film takes a full three hours to explore the minutiae of an adolescent girl’s rite of passage into adulthood, her first experience of a terrifyingly passionate and all-consuming love for another person and, finally, the affair’s demise. At the film’s opening, Adèle (Exarchopoulos) is a young girl thirsting for experience, but hemmed in by the strictures of her environment and the casual and ignorant cruelty of her peers. By its close she has transitioned into a lonely and uncertain young woman who, in losing her first love, has also seemingly misplaced the coordinates with which she navigates the world.

While its narrative of first love and heartbreak is not unusual, the specificity of the film lies in how it conveys the feelings of intense intimacy and heartache, the rawness of lust for another’s body and the inconsolable grief that results when that body is taken away. The true narrative of the film is enveloped in Adèle’s frame and developed across and between the fleshy dialogue of lovers’ limbs. Fundamentally, this is a cinema of the body and, in order to match this, its sex scenes are appropriate in their visceral corporeality. This is exquisite, vital and very brave filmmaking.

Limited release from Fri 22 Nov.

Blue Is The Warmest Color trailer

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La vie d'Adèle)

  • 5 stars
  • 2013
  • France
  • 2h 59min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche
  • UK release: 22 November 2013

The story of a young lesbian couple's beginning, middle and possible end.