One of the most talked about and curiosity inducing films from last year was Abdellatif Kechiche’s romantic drama “Blue is the Warmest Color.” The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, “Blue” was probably best known to the average American filmgoer as “that three hour French lesbian drama” but ultimately overcomes this callous shorthand and is among the most memorable films released thus far in the 2010’s.
Told through the eyes of a young woman named Adèle, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” follows the dizzying rise and excruciating decline of her 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 the older, blue-haired 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 become a part of history itself – film history, at least. Because with this film, 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 newcomer to film acting, whose character is the lead of the film, and Lea Seydoux, a much more experienced actress, probably most recognizable to American audiences for her bit parts in films such as “Inglourious Basterds” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” The two share an electrifying chemistry, and with this film existing outside of the Hollywood spectrum, it allows the actresses to be free of such recent filmmaking trends within the young adult romance sub-genre, like forcing everything feel as awkward and uncomfortable as possible = automatically feeling realistic and brutally honest.
Something else worth mentioning is how convenient the timing of this film’s release year was, 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 by no means a suggestion that a film merely depicting 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 a single city getting demolished or punch being thrown.