Review : Blue is the Warmest Colour

by allan tong for FILMbutton

This year’s Palme d’Or winner at Cannes is a gripping, powerful, but also meandering three-hour journey through a young woman’s lesbian relationship.

Carrying the picture is Adèle Exarchopoulos as Adèle, a high schooler who falls for the slightly older, blue-haired painter, Emma (Léa Seydoux).  They fall into a torrid relationship.  Years later, they live together and Adèle becomes a grade school teacher.  In a predictable turn, Adèle has an affair with a male colleague and Emma explodes.

Exarchopoulos and Seydoux are superb.  Their final scene together is heartbreaking, and their chemistry believable.  Without them, Blue would not succeed since it is a film driven by character, not story.  In fact, Blue could have used more turning points.  At times I wondered where the story was heading.

Nothing sells a film better than controversy.  Much has been said about the explicit sex scenes, both hetero and lesbian.   Julie Maroh, who authored the graphic novel that the movie is based on, has reportedly ridiculed the lesbian sex and found it “laughable.”  As a straight male, I can’t comment, but I would say it would be a shame if audiences walked out of the cinema thinking only about skin.

If I have one criticism about Abdellatif Kechiche’s otherwise fine film is that it doesn’t appear to say anything greater.  True, it depicts a love affair in all its splendor and anguish, but what else?  For 179 minutes Blue held my attention, but I walked away without knowing what it left me.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR opens November 8 in Toronto and Vancouver!

Allan is a Toronto filmmaker, co-directing Leone Stars, a documentary about child victims of the Sierra Leonean civil war.

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