Winner of the Palme d'Or in Cannes earlier this year, Blue is the Warmest Color is a surprising look at the life of a young lesbian woman in France. But the thing that is so gripping about this movie is its honesty and its eye-opening look at what these young people go through in their search for love.
The movie opens with the introduction of a character named Adele. A high school student, her favorite subjects are languages and she reads a lot. When she goes out with a boy from her class, she finds herself becoming increasingly unhappy and eventually ends it with him. By contrast, she becomes increasingly attracted to a girl that she passes one day in the street, and happens to bump into one night while out. Blue-haired art student Emma (Lea Seydoux) is a far cry from anyone her other friends have dated. But their attraction is instantaneous. Striking up an awkward conversation at a lesbian bar, Adele finds herself even more intrigued by Emma, and they end up hanging out together several times. The movie then follows the dynamics of their relationship as they both graduate from their respective schools and have to live their relationship in the open.
And sometimes that's hard.
The edited version of this film, which is the one that I saw, lasted three hours. I was a little nervous going into the theater that I would get bored (I don't care if you have won a Palme d'Or, three hours is rough). But I was surprised at how, despite the film's meandering pace, you are utterly captivated by this story. Adele and Emma have such chemistry that it's fascinating to see their relationship as it blossoms and then, later, as they encounter more and more problems.
The movie also does a lot with the contrasts between these two characters. Emma is by no means wild, but she is older, open-minded and artistic, coming from a family that supports her art. Adele, by contrast, is young and pretty conventional from what we see of her, but a content person nonetheless. In fact, Emma seems to bring out the more adventurous side of Adele, painting her nude for a gallery exhibit. These differences work for them in the beginning but seem to make their relationship more and more complicated towards the end.
It's also fascinating to see a take on the homosexual experience from a high school aged girl. At first, when experimenting, Adele is attacked by her girl friends and threatened. This experience seems to make her nervous throughout the rest of the film about being openly gay, hiding it from her teacher colleagues and a little uncomfortable in front of Emma's artsy fartsy friends. She even hides it from her parents at one point, when they ask Emma during an invite to dinner, whether she has a boyfriend or not.
The fully developed characters and the honest, tell-all, meandering look at a relationship make this movie really wonderful. If you can sit through three hours (and a 12-minute lesbian sex scene which made the theater I was in very uncomfortable), I would highly recommend it.
8 outa 10.
8 outa 10.