Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adèle) (NC-17)

Drama 179 October 25, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
After all of the controversy kicked up since it won the Palme d'Or, what reasonably curious person doesn't want to see Blue Is the Warmest Color? But what's going to happen when people trek out, revved up for lots of hot lesbian sex, and find something else? Tenderness doesn't make good controversy. Adèle Exarchopoulos plays Adèle, a teen literature student, who meets and falls for Emma (Léa Seydoux), an art student, a little older. Their relationship begins in a schoolyard and lasts for years, right into Adèle's early adulthood, and director Abdellatif Kechiche allows it to play out in languorous detail. Blue Is the Warmest Color is a longish movie in which nothing and everything happens: Kechiche and his actresses explore the in-between-- ecstasy, exploration, the comfort and eventual boredom of domesticity-- and the aftermath, the painful shards of feeling we cling to after something has shattered. And they don't mess around when it comes to the ferocity of love, sex, or, God help us, the two combined. The sex scenes constitute maybe eight minutes of the film, and they're extraordinary, free of the varnished, composed feeling of so much movie sex. Yet as striking as they are, they're hardly the movie's major feature. Somehow Seydoux and Exarchopoulos manifest an idea of desire, a mood that performers and directors often fail to capture even when there's good on-set chemistry. Seydoux is always a captivating actress, but here there are new layers of vulnerability beneath her fox-cub allure. Exarchopoulos, guileless and vibrant, is the devastating one. At first Adèle doesn't know what she wants; then she wants it all, and her ardor is overwhelming.
Abdellatif Kechiche Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Jeremie Laheurte, Catherine Salée, Aurélien Recoing, Sandor Funtek, Karim Saidi, Baya Rehaz, Aurelie Lemanceau Julie Maroh, Abdellatif Kechiche IFC Films


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