Much has been said about Blue Is the Warmest Colour, so here’s some more… Since winning the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival a lot of controversy has been stirred up around the working conditions of cast and crew and a little too much focus has been put on the fact that the film features extended lesbian sex scenes. Disagreements and sex make for good headlines but don’t necessarily make for good films and that is what we are looking for here. Behind the headlines is Blue Is the Warmest Colour actually any good?
In a word; yes. In two words; hell yes! Blue Is the Warmest Colour is the story of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) a young girl at school who is just discovering her own sexuality and place in the world. We follow her through a brief relationship with a boy and through her first same-sex relationship with the dazzling and blue-haired college student Emma (Léa Seydoux). Across the three hours of the film we see Adèle grow from child to adult as she learns the hard way just how fantastical and painful love can be.
With such a long running time we are able to get fully immersed in Adèle as a character and see her entire world. The relationship between Adèle and Emma is beautifully realised from their initial meeting and tentative conversations, through their more passionate moments, and past the time when relations are more strained. Emma is an artist surrounded by creative and cultured friends while Adèle’s dream is to be a teacher. While Emma pushes Adèle to be fulfilled through writing she is simply content to be fulfilled in their relationship. Adèle is someone who loves with every fibre of her being and is happy to be defined by her relationship, and yet ashamed to admit to it) making it all the more difficult when that relationship is struggling.
Yes the film does feature some extended lesbian sex scenes. The scenes are beautiful, raw, and passionate and do a lot to showcase the progression of Adèle and Emma’s relationship. It is not as if the film is skimping on devoting time to other areas of their relationship in favour of some titillation. We see every aspect of their relationship and infinitely more time is dedicated to exploring their relationship outside the bedroom as in it but sex is an important part of their relationship and in the three-hour expanse of the film it would be bizarre to not feature it. Does the sex need to be quite so explicit? Perhaps not but I did not find it jarring within the context of the film.
Everything about Blue Is the Warmest Colour feels natural, real and truthful. Watching this excellent cast directed by Abdellatif Kechiche you do not feel like you are watching a contrived situation; nobody seems to be acting and the dialogue does not feel scripted. Adèle is a fully realised human being and is played with immense prowess by the relatively inexperienced Adèle Exarchopoulos.
Some commentators have their criticisms of Blue Is the Warmest Colour as to its levels of exploitation and authenticity and I can only review it as a straight male. What I saw was beautiful in every way. This film is so much more than a handful of sex scenes, it is an intensely intimate character study.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour screens at the festival on the 17th October and is in UK cinemas on 15th November 2013.