“Blue is the Warmest Color,” one of the most talked about and curiosity inducing films of the year, has finally arrived stateside. The winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Blue” is probably best known to the average American as “that three hour French lesbian drama” but ultimately overcomes this callous shorthand and is among the best films released this year.
Told through the eyes of a young woman named Adèle, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” follows the dizzying rise and excruciating decline of first love. Although much scrutiny has surrounded its frank depiction of sex between two women, as well as other behind the scenes controversies, “Blue” is so universal and honest in its portrayal of love, and so painfully accurate in capturing that hollow feeling that follows losing someone against one’s will, that the experience of viewing the film transcends being pigeonholed to being relatable to only a single gender or sexual identity.
Based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel of the same name (because these days, even French Art-House films are based on comic books), “Blue” charts the coming of age of its aforementioned protagonist, and her involvement in a years-long romantic affair with a young blue-haired woman named Emma. Director Abdellatif Kechiche, previously known for making films about past historical time periods, has this time created a film that is likely going to make history itself – film history, at least. Kechiche and his two lead actresses have together crafted one of the purest and most believable onscreen romances of 21st century.
Said actresses are Adele Exarchopolus, a relative newcomer to film acting, whose character is the lead of the film, an Emma, played by Lea Seydoux, probably best known to American audiences for her bit parts in things like “Inglourious Basterds” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” The two have electrifying chemistry, and with this film existing outside of the Hollywood spectrum, it allows the actresses to be free of such recent film-making trends within the young adult romance sub-genre as forcing everything feel as awkward and uncomfortable as possible. This makes it realistic and brutally honest.
Something else worth mentioning is how convenient the timing of this film’s release year is, with gay marriage slowly becoming legalized state by state in the United States, as well as the film’s native country of France. And while that’s not to suggest that a film about a homosexual relationship is some sort of important cultural milestone, its very presence in this history making year could serve as a celebration of sorts, at least of the preciousness and increasing normality of same sex partnerships.
Among the film’s many other virtues is its gender and sexuality defying authenticity. No matter how you identity yourself sexually, anybody who has ever been really devoted or attached to somebody else should be able to find this film relatable on some level. Allowing something as trivial as the genders of its romantic leads or a mere language barrier to turn you away from seeing this masterful piece of work would be a huge mistake. It also manages to come out on top as far and away the best comic book adaptation of the year (in a year stuffed with them), and does so without even a single superhero or action sequence. It is well worth seeing.