Blue is the Warmest Color

November 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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This film is based on the French graphic novel whose name translates to “Blue is a Hot Color,” which is actually a slighter better name for the story of a teenage girl who falls in love with a blue haired older woman.  The film, which inexplicably is called “The Life of Adèle” in France, has been the source of much controversy, since winning at Cannes, for it’s sex scenes. Interestingly, no one has said anything about the fact that the sex occurs between an underage girl who is perhaps as young as 15 and a woman in her late twenties. Rather, there has been much discussion about how explicit the scenes are. There are indeed four very explicit sex scenes, once of which is 7 minutes long. This in itself is not a problem. However, in a film that clocks in at over 3 hours, every scene had better be justifiable and these were not. In fact, that is the whole problem this movie faces. I loved it at first but it just wore me out. The acting is truly fantastic and the two lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, are a joy to watch. Exarchopoulos, as young Adèle, is particularly stunning. There is a scene early in the film where her friends accuse her of being a lesbian. She visibly flushes with embarrassment and anger; Exarchopoulos seemed to live inside her character so well that every emotion felt real. Additionally, the script is stellar. The dialogue feels completely natural as do the situations the women find themselves in. Scenes beautifully illustrate class and educational differences between the two women without being heavy handed. However, most of these scenes go on too long.  By the end, I was fatigued and just ready for it to be over. If director, Abdellatif Kechiche, had trimmed all of the scenes (the sexual ones included) to get the film down closer to two hours, he would have had a fantastic film. In fact, the sex scenes could have been left out almost entirely. I noticed that virtually all the men in the film (besides the two fathers) were of Arabic descent, as is the director. In a film set in France, where all the women are white but all the male romantic hopefuls are not, I wondered if Kechiche wasn’t playing out his own fantasy in some way. While I am certainly no expert on lesbian sex, I could not help but feel those scenes were less about the women in them then they were about the men watching them. There was so much spanking going on that I started to laugh at one point. In fact, the sex scenes were the only ones that did not ring true in this otherwise amazing film. I am reminded of “Keep The Lights On,” a 2012 film that follows a very similar story in a gay male relationship. While this film is superior to that one in every other way, at literally half the time, it was just so much tighter and, for that reason, I think it’s the better film.

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