Sometimes a movie gets to be known for a single scene above all others. This can be an incredible action scene, an intense dramatic scene or even just a scene that makes it stand way the hell out from all the other movies. These movies can be good (There Will Be Blood will always be known for Daniel Day-Lewis screaming about milkshakes) bad (Zabrinske Point is a painfully dull movie, but goddamn that final explosion is awesome) or mediocre (would anyone even remember Return of the Dragon if Bruce Lee didn’t kill Chuck Norris in it?) And sometimes, it’s helpful to back off and acknowledge this fact, no matter how crass it is. So, with that in mind, Blue is the Warmest Colour has become well known for the fact that it contains, amongst other things, a 7 minute long, ridiculously explicit, lesbian sex scene.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it. The plot, loosely adapted from a French graphic novel entitled Blue Angel, is devoted to a girl named Adele (I’m not making jokes about it, but you can if you want). One day she randomly meets a woman named Emma with the eponymous blue hair and begins a rather passionate relationship with her. The rest of the film is devoted to the ups and downs of their relationship, spanning from Adele’s teenage years well into adulthood.
I do want to get this out of the way right up front; The biggest and most glaring problem with this movie is it’s pacing. Yes it might not surprise you that a 3 hour movie entirely about one couple with little in the way of side characters and nothing in the way of subplots is paced like a river of cement, but it sure as hell surprised me. It’s not just the length though, it’s paced rather oddly. Scenes will seem to keep going on forever, and then abruptly end. A lengthy section at the end gets weirdly repetitive, and while it may seem odd for a mostly straight male to say this, I’d have cut a bit of the sex as it too gets a bit repetitive and doesn’t seem to add a ton. So if you’ve got low stamina for lengthy movies, this one is probably not for you.
But if the length and sometimes slow pace aren’t a problem for you, there’s a lot to recommend about Blue is the Warmest Colour. It’s extremely well written for one, although my ability to judge the character’s “voices” are limited, as I don’t speak French. The length may get tedious at times, but it does give us a rather intimate look into Adele’s life and helps her come alive as a person. The cinematography and use of light in particular is gorgeous and the direction is, for the most part, pretty solid.
It’s also become a custom for presumed Best Foreign Language Film winners (which Blue mostly certainly is) to have a nomination in another category, and if that’s the case this year at the Oscars, then we can probably expect to see Adele Exarchopoulos up for Best Actress. She is phenomenal, not only at making her impossibly explicit sex scenes seem realistic (to the point where they begin to threaten to stop being erotic occasionally) but also in quietly inhabiting her character, in even the smallest scenes. It’s all the more impressive, given that her performance is basically devoid of any big scenery chewing shouting moments, but that she still manages to give such an intense performance. Her costar Lea Seydoux (so many names I have to double check the spelling on) is also spot on, and is tasked with a couple of the bigger moments so she might stand out a little more than Adele. Unfortunately I can’t say too much more about the acting, because as I said earlier, there’s not really anything in the way of side characters.
There are some other minor complaints I could harp on (the movie overuses the color blue a tiny bit, even with the title being what it is, there are some scenes that feel out of place and it isn’t in much of a hurry to clue us in on time skips) but ultimately Blue is the Warmest Colour is an extremely good movie, that occasionally flirts with being great. It’s extreme length, explicit sex scenes and occasional slow pace might mean it’s not for everyone (also it’s subtitled, but I refuse to acknowledge the idea that there are people who won’t see a movie cause it’s subtitled) but if you think you can get into it, odds are you’ll get way into it. So I guess Blue is walking away with a recommendation. So what it’s not perfect, you get imperfection from trying new things.
Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he had to work very hard not to make a joke about Thanksgiving and eating [PUNCHLINE CENSORED].