out of Five
Running time: 179
Stunningly shot and superbly written, this is a powerfully emotional French drama told with raw honesty, thanks to assured direction and a sensational lead performance from Adele Exarchopoulos.
What's it all about?
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (who made Couscous) and loosely based on a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, Blue Is The Warmest Colour (originally titled La vie d'Adèle: Chapitre 1 & 2) is set in Lille and
stars Adele Exarchopoulos as 15 year old student Adele, who realises she's not into boys when she finds herself fantasising about a punky, blue-haired art student (Lea Seydoux as Emma) she glimpsed on the street. After plucking up the courage to visit a lesbian bar in town, Adele meets Emma and the pair begin a passionate, sensual affair.
The film then jumps forward several years to find Adele working as a primary school teacher and living with Emma, who's still seeking success in the art world. However, various tensions are bubbling under the surface of their relationship, eventually leading to a devastating break-up.
Adele Exarchopoulos delivers an extraordinary performance that is utterly mesmerising to watch, her every thought and emotion clearly visible on her achingly expressive face. She also has palpable
chemistry with Lea Seydoux and the intensity of their passion is powerfully conveyed within the film's lengthy, visceral sex scenes (the exhausting central sequence is around six minutes long), which,
though explicit, are never exploitative.
Kechiche's direction is assured throughout – despite the change of title, we are left in no doubt that this is a strikingly intimate character study, with Sofian El Fani's stunning cinematography often
remaining tightly focused, Dardenne Brothers-style, on Exarchopoulos' face. Similarly, the excellent script brilliantly captures both the agony and ecstasy of first love, as well as the devastating pain of
heartbreak and the film remains utterly gripping throughout its entire three hour running time.
Intriguingly, the script refuses to adhere to the expected clichés – there's no coming-out scene and no dramatic family conflict (though there is both an uncomfortable playground confrontation sequence and an awkward first kiss with a female schoolfriend). This lack of clichéd distractions allows the film to focus on the raw honesty of the central relationship itself, in ways that will resonate deeply
with anyone who's ever been in love.
Brilliantly directed and superbly written, this is a powerfully emotional and achingly honest love story with a pair of terrific central performances from Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. It's also one of the best films of the year. Unmissable.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (La Vie D'Adele) (18)