Potentially this year’s most controversial film is naturally one of the most divisive, which is to be expected from a three hour profile of love as mercilessly uncompromising as this. Uncomfortable as some have found it, this raw and unadulterated picture hits multiple emotional notes with such breathtaking levels that it’s too compelling to disregard.
The critiques of the sex scenes claiming that it inaccurately portrays lesbian sexual intercourse and verges on voyeurism are off base, although far be it from me to offer any insight into the debate as someone unabashedly unfamiliar with lesbian sex. The effect of sex on Adèle is such an integral aspect to her adolescence that it must not be negated to mere pornography; instead, judge it from her perspective in the way that that Kechiche portrays it. From her first curiosities it is sex that has been awakening her – the wet dream of Emma, judging Thomas based solely on his sexual performance – and now she relents from her conversational timidness with Emma, where she’s barely confident enough to ask when she first ‘tasted a girl’, to expose herself in the stimulating and safe environment of female-on-female sex. There is mutual agreement in play which allows Adèle to unleash her suffocating desires and create a vibrant connection with Emma; it shows her fervency in a setting where she is safe express it. These sexual experiences essentially define her narrative progression in these two chapters as they become obsessive, overwhelming and destructive.
One of the very best parallels that Blue is the Warmest Color creates is that of Adèle to Thomas, her boyfriend at the beginning of the film. He is her intellectual, artistic and cultural inferior – yet this is how Adèle comes to view herself against Emma. Adèle changes and becomes an adult in age but this doesn’t represent real growth or maturity. Her choice in career best reflects this; as a teacher she chooses to surround herself with children and she has a pleasing relationship with them, perhaps because they are her emotional equal and she is merely a child covered in smart and expensive adult clothing that remains impulsive, hung up and lost. It’s impressively meditative work that’s dutifully complimented by the truly elegant acting from both Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux whose ease on camera is a pleasure to watch in all its agony, ecstasy and spaghetti eating banality. The close-up cinematography brings awareness to subtle, miniature changes in expression that are sublimely handled by director and actors.
While it admittedly neglects charting the reaction of Adèle’s family and friends through the film, along with featuring a couple of overly melodramatic single-tear-down-cheek moments, this is simply a masterful piece of filmmaking. It is played out honestly,beautiful to observe and is alive with infinite possibilities – just as life and love should be.