This was one of my most anticipated films of the London Film Festival. Leaving aside the stellar word from Cannes and the unprecedented decision to award the Palme D'Or to the film's stars as well as its director I'd still have been desperate to see it, because Blue is the Warmest Colour seems to be built entirely out of things I find interesting. I am, as some of my LFF reviews will attest, an absolute sucker for a coming of age movie and you could make the case that no country produces interesting examples of the genre with greater regularity than France. I'm also interested in controversial, boundary pushing, cinema of all kinds and given the discussion that has surrounded its sex scenes and the actresses comments on them I wanted to see it in order to be a part of that discussion. Unfortunately Blue is the Warmest Colour turned out to be, despite several inarguable qualities, one of the more disappointing films of the festival so far.
The French title - La Vie D'Adele - is much more descriptive of what this film is. Spanning several years, the film focuses on Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) from the age of 17 and especially on her intense relationship with Emma (Lea Seydoux), her first with a woman. The relationship is depicted in intense and explicit detail over the film's generous 179 minute running time.
If there's one thing that you can't deny about this film it's that the two leading performances are exceptional. Adele Exarchopoulos is a real find, she's so beautiful that it almost seems as though she's been put together as a photofit from the constituent parts of other incredibly beautiful faces, but there is much to be found behind that dazzling facade. Exarchopoulos gives an unaffected performance that switches gears effortlessly, sometimes in a moment, from casual to intensely emotional. There is an especially effective example of this when, having qualified as a teacher, she is saying goodbye to her students for the summer and as soon as they leave breaks down in floods of tears (they're not about the students). She's possibly most effective when her passion is at its height, be it when Adele begs Emma not to break up with her or a late scene in a cafe when she attempts to get the relationship back, but she also has a lightness of touch that comes through when Adele is teaching or spending time with friends. It's a noteworthy debut and I'm looking forward to seeing what Exarchopoulos does from here.