Movie Review: Blue Is the Warmest Color

By Stephen Rebello

<p>Abdellatif Kechiche's controversial film is exceptional.<br></p>

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Rating: NC-17

Studio: Sundance Selects

Stars: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche

The release of Blue Is the Warmest Color has ignited a firestorm. One of its two female stars has gone public saying that she felt like a prostitute filming the sex scenes. Both actresses said they would never again work with the French-Tunisian director, despite the many photos of them kissing his cheek when the film won the Palme d'Or prize of prizes at Cannes. The director himself has said that he wishes the film would never be released because he has felt “humiliated, disgraced” by the blowback.

Here’s what you need to know about writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche’s controversial film: It chronicles roughly 10 years in the lives of two young women in love. It’s in French (with English subtitles), runs almost three hours and features many astonishingly intimate sex scenes and many other equally astonishingly intimate private moments. It isn’t pornographic. It is sometimes unbearably moving. It’s a movie that, if you give yourself over to it, could stomp your heart.

Blue Is the Warmest Color, based on an acclaimed graphic novel by Julie Maroh and adapted by Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, stars newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos, a young woman who has the kind of face for which the term “luminous” could have been invented. She plays an everyday high school girl who loves literature and has a crush on handsome young fellow student Jérémie Laheurte; she starts dating him but it doesn’t click. By chance, she sees on the street a rebellious older art student, played by the compelling Léa Seydoux. When the two collide, it’s all hands, tongues, fingers, gasps, moans and unbridled passion, and we’re right there next to them. Sexual attraction, let alone crazily combustible chemistry, has rarely been captured so powerfully in a film. Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Sofian El Fani, the early erotic scenes and others that follow are sexy and titillating but also so unguarded and abandoned, it almost seems we should turn away. From there, the relationship develops, mutual families get involved and, in the end, there is wreckage. Anyone who has ever fallen head over heels in long, lasting love and been left behind will feel the burn. The performances are knockouts and Kechiche’s gifts for texture, nuance and fleeting moments are exceptional. The whole film is exceptional. The controversy will pass.


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