Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Blue is the Warmest Color: the Palme D’Or Winner Revealed
nothing else, this graphic novel adaptation shows how far the comic medium has
matured. As most festival followers already know, this French coming of age
story is strictly for adults. There will
be no cut-aways to drapes billowing in the wind during Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York at the IFC Center.
year-old Adèle dreams of romantic fulfillment, but cannot find it with her high
school classmates. The big man on campus
just does not do it for her. A lesbian
fling is more promising, but the lack of emotional reciprocity turns somemwhat
embarrassing for her. Nursing feelings
of alienation, she resolves to find the punky blue-haired college art student
who turned her head. At first, Emma
approaches her with caution, but they soon embark on a torrid sexual
relationship that the audience witnesses in vivid detail.
there is an element of mutual support to their time spent together, but
Kechiche focuses on the sex and the betrayal.
At one point we are told Adèle means “justice” in Arabic as if that held
earth-shaking significance, but it would be just as relevant to learn it meant “do
the locomotion” in Inuit. This is
essentially an apolitical film, because the only opposition to their
relationship comes from their own efforts to sabotage it.
Blue has its biting
moments, especially when it asks whether infidelity is more or less hurtful when
committed with a straight man. Likewise,
it offers a provocative portrait of the borderline exploitive artist, with a
constant need for newer and more stimulating lovers. Yet, Kechiche’s editorial choices guarantee
the film will be defined by its sexual content.
Kechiche refused to choreograph to sex scenes, but everyone seems to know what
they are doing and where to put the camera to get the best angle on it. If everyone is improvising then they are
doing it on a jazz musician’s level.
There is an awful lot of it, regardless.
That is not prudery speaking. It
is only natural to look for someplace to cut a three hour movie. Any film clocking it at one hundred seventy
nine minutes should burn Atlanta and storm the Czar’s Winter Palace. Yet, Blue
simply follows the rise and fall of relationship, with a third act
denouement dedicated to regrets.
Blue’s two co-leads are
certainly bold, exposing everything for Kechiche’s camera. Léa Seydoux is hugely charismatic and
seductive as Emma, even when sporting a ridiculous blue hair color that would
be more appropriate to a Florida retirement home. However, Adèle Exarchopoulos is so young and immature
looking as her namesake, it adds an additional level of creepiness to the film.
were disappointed Blue did not meet
the qualifications to be submitted as France’s foreign language Oscar
contender, but they probably had not seen it yet. Instead of a film to ride the
crest of the gay marriage court victories, Blue
presents an under-aged girl left emotionally damaged with an affair with an
older woman—not exactly an empowering statement.
To recap: three hours. There are some honest moments in Blue, but for better or worse, the sex
trumps everything. Ultimately, it becomes
rather repetitive once the eye-popping shock wears off. Frankly, Blue
is a perfect example of the on-screen substance not warranting the
off-screen controversy. Overlong and
self-indulgent, Blue is the Warmest Color
is only really recommended for the ogglers when it opens this Friday
(10/25) in New York at the IFC Center.
Labels: French Cinema, Lea Seydoux