**Spoilers Ahead** Also jumbling of random thoughts as the film is very long and I will probably be piecing together my feelings until I see it again.
After months of anxiously waiting, Googling, and Youtubing the internationally acclaimed film Blue is the Warmest Color, I finally got to indulge myself in all 179 minutes of emotionally charged glory. This is the first film involving a relationship between two women that didn’t register as a “lesbian film” in my mind but rather a story about self-discovery and exchanging energy rivaling that of the sun. I walked out the theatre feeling emotionally exhausted and headed straight to the sushi bar with my friends to share reactions and alcohol. Despite the length of the story I was enthralled the entire time because (obviously) I’m biased towards illustrations of same-sex relationships. The shots were beautiful and simple, often with warm glows accompanying scenes of intense passion or happiness. Extreme close ups were used during the most intimate scenes such as eating, kissing, and sex; something we’re not used to seeing in American films.
The infamous and well-lit sex scene started off sensually from my perspective. I could feel their raw passion being released as they deeply explored each others bodies. But the longer it progressed the more uncomfortable it got (not to me per say) and I really did not see how the addition contributed any more to the scene or film as a whole. The male gaze was strongly present here as many articles have pointed out but it didn’t ruin my experience because I received the scene as another step in the evolution of their relationship and demonstration of human beings succumbing to their visceral, carnal desires. Either way, I thought it was pretty damn sexy. Another point of probable contention was Adéle’s infidelity with her male coworker, occurring approximately a few or so years into their relationship. Some saw this as the typical queer narration of the “straight” girl going back to guy. Clearly that is not the case here. Emma focused much of her time and energy in her work, which made Adéle feel undesired and under appreciated so she sought out another being who could fill the voids. Attraction of any sort due to proximity is very common and so her decisions or mistakes have some validity. I’m not condoning her cheating, but Adéle’s condition after Emma ferociously dismissed her from their shared home was indicative of her not “going back to men.”
It was almost physically painful to watch Adéle begin her monotonous life devoid of passion and energy. She regresses back to her High School self, sleeping sprawled out and child-like, having sexual fantasies, and being mostly alone. One of the most heartbreaking scenes came towards the end when Emma met Adéle in a café to reconnect. Adéle’s intentions were obvious even before Emma sat down. She was waiting poised, primped, and had ordered a glass of white wine, of which she called Emma’s stepdad to make sure it was a favorite of Emma’s. Emma refused the wine and instead ordered a coffee. Typical questions of ex lovers were passed back and fourth until Adéle asked Emma if she was sexually satisfied with her new lover (who has a child). After ambiguously responding, Adéle aggressively and I suppose passionately kisses Emma and directs her hand to the crotch of her tights. They briefly continue the heated moment in the public space until Emma stops, ultimately ending Adéle’s last efforts to win the love of her life back. Emma then eloquently states that she has a family now but will always have “infinite tenderness” [for Adéle]. That was when mine and Adéle’s tears flowed in harmony, continuing as Emma got up and walked out, back to the love waiting for her at home. I teared up because I could see and feel Adéle’s burning desperation. Her emptiness. I wanted to jump through the screen and give her words of advice from Sheryl Crow, “the first cut is the deepest.”
Overall, Blue is the Warmest Color met and maybe exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed watching the passage of love between two very different individuals. I am delighted the film was French not only for the beautiful language but for the French aesthetic. Little dialogue and a lot of Mise-en-scène, cigarettes, and eating. It forced the viewer to focus on emotions told through eyes and mouths. In an interview (they are so adorable and attractive) Adéle described the story as one about “skin, close ups, mouths, itching, and cumming” so they had to let their bodies speak. It is perfect example of showing not telling and that really resonates with me. The high-tensioned moments were dispersed among mostly uneventful scenes, which may be a more accurate portrayal of love than your average love stories. The fact that my mind truly did not register this as a distinctly lesbian film, I think means that love honestly was the focus and not the sexuality of the characters. I am looking forward to seeing how Blue performs during award season and the impact, if any, it makes in the future of film in terms same sex relationships. Who knows, maybe we can get an actual queer person to write and direct one day! If nothing else, see the film to gawk at the beauty (and bodies) and talent of Léa Seydoux and Adéle Exarchopoulos.
I’m partial to Adéle. The shape of her lips are so curious and irresistible to me.