France/Belgium/Spain | 2013 | Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Logline: A frustrated high-school student meets and falls in love with a girl several years older, and finds her love-life becoming an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Attraction is a stolen glance.
Attraction is a lingering gaze.
Flirtation is asking what you’re thinking.
Flirtation is saying you’re always hungry.
Desire is everywhere.
Love is elusive.
Because there’s no such thing as love and adventure, there’s only trouble and desire.
Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) loves books and the prospect of teaching. But the most profound learning will come from her relationship with Emma (Léa Seydoux), a dyke with short dyed-blue hair.
Adèle has experienced frustration after dating a senior boy at school. The spark lies elsewhere; St. Elmo’s fire passes her on the street, and catches her eye. The flame of intrigue burns a passage, fuels a sexual fantasy.
Fate hands Emma to Adèle in a gay bar. Strawberry cocktail aside, Adèle is in heaven. This university student is a painter, and Adèle becomes her muse. The two women embark on a passionate relationship that spans several years.
The title that appears at the end of the movie is La Vie d'Adèle - Chapitres 1 et 2 (The Life of Adèle – Chapters 1 and 2). This is the movie’s original title. However the international title, Blue is the Warmest Colour, is taken from the original French graphic novel the screenplay is based on.
800 hours of rushes was shot. The screenplay, by Ghalia Lacroix and Kechiche, was only read through once by the lead actors, as Kechiche encouraged them to improvise as much as possible, and much of Adèle Exarchopoulos’s screen-time was lifted from the B-roll camera.
Her performance is a revelation.
This is a movie, much like Wong Kar-wai’s brilliant Happy Together (1996), where the gay/lesbian orientation of the relationship isn’t as important as the emotional nuances and profundity of the character’s psychological arc.
In fact, the controversial sex scenes are the movie’s most contrived sequences; explicit, yes, graphic, no, and not especially erotic either. It is the moments “in between” that are most memorable; Adèle lost in her own thoughts.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is dramatic romance awash with melancholy. It is utterly unpretentious in its production values, yet utterly compelling with its central performance.
And I will savour Bolognese even more than I already do.