Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) “La vie d’Adèle”
Cast includes: Léa Sydoux (Farewell, My Queen, Midnight in Paris), Adèle Exarchopoulous (Les enfants de Timpelbach, La Rafle)
Writer/Director: Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain)
Genre: Drama | Romance (179 minutes)
Adèle’s high school class is reading La Princesse de Clèves and talking about the topic of love. Perhaps that’s why her girlfriends are so pushy. “Thomas is looking at you.” Adèle hadn’t noticed. “He’s sneaking a peak… it’s so obvious.” Adèle says he’s not that cute, but the girls don’t agree. The next day, on the bus, Thomas sits next to her and they try to get to know each other. He wants a career in music. What kind of music does she like? Everything but hard rock… too much noise and screaming. Oops… that’s the kind Thomas plays. As they walk through the crowded square, Adèle notices a young woman with blue hair. But it’s not just the hair that catches her eye… the woman is quite striking, but there’s more. She has her arm on the shoulder of another woman and her body language says, “Yes, we’re lesbians… you want to make something of it?” As she passes Adèle, they exchange a glance.
Adèle’s girlfriends are dying to hear about her romance with Thomas and think she’s holding back when she says nothing’s happened. “Are you the sex police?” exclaims Adèle . Thomas is also quite determined, and eventually they do the deed. “It wasn’t good?” he asks. “It was great,” she tries to reassure him. But she later tells her friend Valentin, “I feel like I’m faking it.” Valentin, who’s openly gay, thinks he knows what’s wrong, but Adèle pretends not to. All Adèle knows is that she has to break up with Thomas. “You’re the prettiest girl in class,” says her friend Béatrice and kisses her on the lips. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d get so hooked,” Béatrice says the next day when Adèle tries to reciprocate. When Valentin takes Adèle to a gay bar, everyone can tell it’s her first time. That’s where she finally meets Emma, the woman with the blue hair. “Your type is rare here… under age, curious?” Emma wants to know more about Adèle. Adèle wants to know who does Emma’s hair.
Emma is a couple years older than Adèle and clearly not ashamed of her sexuality. Adèle has been thinking of Emma since she first caught a glimpse of her, but when her school friends later accuse her of being a “lesbo,” she adamantly denies it. But the spark has caught and before long, Adèle and Emma become passionate lovers. As lovers, they hold nothing back… nor do the filmmakers. It’s an intensely sensual and erotic film… an issue that’s gotten both praise and criticism. For Adèle, learning about sexuality is easy… learning about life is a lot harder. Emma has no ambivalence about her sexuality or her lifestyle and she loves being a mentor… for a while. Over time we see that Adèle is both liberated by Emma and trapped by her. Blue Is the Warmest Color captures the passion, the ambivalence and the pain of Adèle’s journey.
3 popped kernels
A teenaged girl who wants normal heterosexual love meets a mesmerizing woman who teaches her about sexual passion
Rated: NC-17 (Sexual Content)
Audience: Young adults & Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Tempo: In no hurry
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Nutshell: Discovering lesbian sexuality
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking