Sarah Cook writes about Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2014). The film screens this Sunday as part of our Club Ciné strand, showcasing the best of French cinema at Picturehouse Central.
Written, produced and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue Is The Warmest Colour (otherwise known by its original title The Life of Adele: Chapters 1 & 2) deservedly won the Palme D’Or at Cannes 2013. A romantic drama centering on young high-school student Adele, whose world is awoken when she collides with a brightly blue-haired Emma, the film is an emotionally exhausting and rich cinematic experience from a director at the very height of his creative powers.
Dealing with the tentative and spellbinding initial steps into sexuality, Kechiche’s film is both beautiful and riveting, from breathless start to melancholy finish. The tender openness, sensuality and realness of the film are the draw. It offers a raw portrayal of the passion that only young people can bring to love. With a delicate spin on a well-trodden story of youthful love, Kechiche allows emotion to live on screen through the vivid and conflicted emotions of the characters. Spinning a story as forthright as it is difficult, the director is attentive to the characterisation that draws the audience into an unforgettable journey.
Lead actresses Adele Exarchopoulos (a newcomer) and Lea Seydoux are a sublime pairing. Their dynamic layers the relationship with unwavering realism and unbridled passion.
It’s vital to point out of course that Kechiche has drawn heavy criticism from both actresses and audience members for the lengthy, unsimulated sex scenes in the film. Whilst the controversy on and off screen is troubling and the vigorous intimacy on screen can seem at odds with the tentative nature of the young romance, it would be reductive to dismiss these scenes entirely. The sexual nature of the film proves to be much more than simply titillation. Without them, the whole affair would feel false, as the intense and explicit emotions conveyed in the movie would naturally lead to strong, exciting sex.
Kechiche’s work draws you into Adele and Emma’s story; the film’s style is touching and immediate, achieving a kind of poetic realism that is rare in cinema. A beautiful and daring exploration of affection and heartache, its concluding scenes are achingly familiar for anyone who has ever experienced the end of an intense love affair.
Join us at Picturehouse Central at 1:00pm on Sun 8 January. Book tickets.