in Criterion Month

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Does anyone want to hear what a straight white adult male has to say about Blue is the Warmest Colour? I don’t. Like Persona earlier this month Blue is the Warmest Colour is a movie I wanted to see but didn’t want to write about it because I don’t feel I have anything to offer to the conversation. I can tell you that I liked the film and it was romantic and sexy and funny and sad but not much else. I’ve also been waiting to finish it for five years. Yes, I started watching it in 2013 before giving up forty minutes in. Not because of the film’s content. Because the film is 179 minutes long. Which is funny considering this will be the shortest (and last) review of Criterion Month.

Blue is the Warmest Colour, adapted from Julie Maroh’s graphic novel of the same name, is a coming-of-age film about Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) a 15-year-old girl curious about sex. We follow Adèle through her first relationship with a boy from school but something doesn’t feel right. Adèle’s true feelings are for a blue-haired girl she’s passed on the street named Emma (Léa Seydoux). Adèle fantasizes about Emma and eventually crosses paths with her when a friend invites her to a gay bar.

We learn that Emma is a burgeoning painter with a kinetic energy. The two bond over a mutual physical attraction and begin a passionate relationship. The film progresses and we follow the couple through a handful of years. Adèle becomes a kindergarten teacher and Emma pursues her art, working and mingling with the Parisian hipster art scene. Adèle has trouble finding any common ground with this community as the two slowly learn they don’t have as much in common. The couple continues to have a strong physical relationship but finds themselves as people drifting further and further apart.

Without even seeing the film I knew what kind of experience I would have. A funny but tragic portrait of exploring sexuality, and of course it’s French. The performances are naturalistic and surprisingly intimate. Our two leads engage in many explicit sex scenes and show a lot of vulnerability. Not just that but these actors were shot for over six months to help capture their growing chemistry. That’s quite a feat and it truly pays off in the finishing film.

My only problem with the film is its length. The film is a loose narrative that spans such a long window of time. There are a lot of great human moments captured but this film could definitely be trimmed. It feels self-indulgent at times and I think contributed to why not as many people saw it when it came out. The NC-17 rating didn’t help either. Which is stupid. We can see buckets of blood in a rated R movie but throw in some sex and it’s the most taboo of taboos, but I won’t get into it. I wish I could give you more right now, especially with this being our last entry into Criterion Month but this is a lot to take in and I need more time to reflect. So without further ado, Au Revoir until next year. This has been Criterion Month