386 of 414 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2013
I just want to give everyone a heads-up that Criterion will be releasing a Special Edition for this film later next year. The film is fantastic, and I am giving it 5 stars, but the review is simply a heads-up in case you didn't know there was a better edition coming out later.
Criterion specifically says this on the product page for the movie:
"A full special edition treatment of this film will follow at a later date."
I hope this helps someone. I know I'd be upset if I spend $20 on this basic edition, and then found out later that there's another coming out with a lot more extras included.
199 of 221 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2013
This is rightly one of the most talked about films of the year, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. Whether the film benefits or not from all the attention being paid to the graphic sex scenes, I don't know, but if you let that stop you from seeing the film you'll be missing one of the most honest and gut-wrenching portrayals of first love ever filmed.
I saw this film in New York City with a dear friend back in November, and we couldn't stop talking about it until she had to catch her flight to Washington the next day. We kept talking about Adele as if she was a real person, hoping the best for her in life. This is the real power of the film, drawing you in to the life of Adele.
Lea Seydoux and Adele Excharpoulos bring an almost divine abandon and fatalism to their performances as the two romantic leads. I think audiences have tended to sentimentalize the relationship between Emma and Adele and put it on a pedestal, but the director makes clear that this is not his viewpoint. It's a very passionate and physical relationship, but there isn't much more to hold it together. This seems to be the point that the director is making with the very graphic and extended sex scenes. Sex nourishes the ravenous Adele, but Emma has more intellectual needs. Thus, beyond the physicality of their relationship, it is not a marriage of equals. A key scene at a party they are hosting underscores the imbalance in their relationship. Watching Adele, who seems content to serve the guests while Emma mingles, I wondered if Adele would be doomed if she stays in this relationship.
The film keeps getting more interesting after this point as it explores Adele's growth as a person. An image that came to my mind during the film is that of a mother bird pushing her fledgling out of the nest. You might know which scene I'm thinking about. After the film's end, during the credits (no spoiler here) we learn that this film was originally titled, "The Life of Adele, Chapters 1 and 2," which is a more mundane title than "Blue Is The Warmest Color," but very revealing in that it explains the themes of the film more accurately. "Blue" puts the focus on the relationship between Adele and Emma, but the story is really about a girl who is just finding herself in the world.
There is so much beautiful imagery in the film. The blue motif, if obvious, is conveyed with the most exquisite touches. For example, there is the now iconic scene where Adele is floating in the water, drowning in a halo of blue. It's an incredibly powerful scene that expresses so much with no words. This film is worth watching over again just to take in the beautiful cinematography. Meanwhile Adele Exarchopoulos, with her pouty lips, appealing overbite, and tangle of unruly hair, is one of the most naturally charismatic and alluring screen presences I've seen in awhile.
And kudos to the director for not stepping back from the NC-17 rating. Artistically, it was the right decision. If you can get past the sex, you might find that this is the best film of 2013.
215 of 244 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2013
This is the most emotionally painful film I have ever watched concerning romantic love. It has the most realistic psychological depiction of the after effects of a breakup that I have ever witnessed on film, this is a transcendent film (I am a heterosexual male and I was able to relate to the main character) and performance by the lead actress, who should win every award on the planet for her otherworldly performance. It is the most impressive performance I have ever seen by any actor or actress anywhere and at anytime, rivaling if not far surpassing anything that I have ever seen on film (and I have watched almost everything both past and present).
Blue is the Warmest Color is a film that completely defies categorization, I hold graduate degrees in Literature, Philosophy and Film Theory and I don't know what it is (tragedy, romance, gothic horror, or some completely new genre). I don't know what it is, but I do know that it is one of the most intimate dissections of the tragedy of human existence that I have ever seen or read in any cultural product or any work of art that I have ever experienced in my lifetime.
I have never seen anything quite like this movie, its beautiful depiction of the tragedy of the human experience is devastating. It is simultaneously the most beautiful and one of the darkest and emotionally complex visions of life that I have ever seen put on film. The actresses performance literally crawls underneath the viewers skin and haunts you for days after the ending of the film, I am trying to forget it, it is that emotionally painful. All the more gut wrenching in that there is no antagonist in the film, she is totally and completely a victim of the antinomies hidden within human existence itself.
There is the faintest whisper of a very dark nightmare running just below the surface of all of these beautiful luminescent images. A nightmare not about any particular thing whether social, political or personal, but having to do with existence itself and how we are all victims of it. There is an uncanny feeling that existence feeds on us, by making and compelling us to feed upon it. So although there is a critical sociological component to the film concerning the narrow mindedness of the greater society and its intolerance of differing modalities of sexual experience, there is a much deeper and darker layer to the film.
Not for the faint of heart, and that is not because of the sexual content, it is because of the emotional content which is amazingly potent. It is the most brutally honest film concerning the loneliness and isolation that overcomes someone when they have lost someone they have been emotionally attached to that I have ever seen, or that I will ever care to see, not to sound hyperbolic but this film is quite literally a masterpiece.
117 of 138 people found the following review helpful
A good romance in American cinema is surprisingly difficult to find because most films of a romantic nature are either romantic comedies or romantic melodramas. They're a dime a dozen. But every once in a great while, you get a film that not only casts off the rom-com or melodrama usually associated with a romance story, but actually draws you in to the relationship in such a mesmerizing way with smart and absorbing storytelling and unbelievably brilliant performances is one of the rarest things imaginable. Director Abdellatif Kechiche's BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is that film.
Based on the wonderful award-winning graphic novel by Julie Maroh, BLUE is the story of Adele (Adele Excharopoulos), who begins the film as a naturally beautiful 15-year-old high school student who is just trying to do her best to stay uneaten in the feeding frenzy of adolescence. She keeps with her friends; she dates a cute boy; she pleases her working-class parents; she does well in school. But all that changes one day when she walks across a street, and sees Emma (Lea Seydoux), a haunting and beautiful older college student with dyed blue hair. They share a gaze, and in that instant, Adele is transfixed. She can barely move. She has really felt that thing we all look for: love at first sight. After losing her virginity with her boyfriend as an attempt to deny her "abnormal" feellings, she clearly doesn't feel the love and desire for him that she wants to, and breaks it off with him. Through a sequence of events, she has a chance meeting with Emma at a gay bar, and they become friends. The friendship clearly blossoms into something more, and their passions reach a fever pitch as they make love for the first time. They begin a relationship that is hidden from Adele's family and friends, but is open and accepted by Emma's. The relationship spans several years from Adele's student days and to her becoming a teacher of kindergarteners, and Emma changes from starving artist to toast of the town. But their relationship has problems. Despite the length of time they've spent together, they seem to be losing one another. Does love overcome, or is the passion of youth weighed down by the practicality of adulthood?
When this film was presented with the Palme D'or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival, it wasn't just presented to director Kechiche, but also to leads Excharopoulos (this is her first major film role) and Seydoux (who some filmgoers might recognize from American films like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS or MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL) and the reasoning behind that is that they were all equal parts of what makes this film so remarkable. Kechiche directs the film using a lot of close-ups, allowing the audience very much in the lives and minds of the characters that inhabit the film. He also spares the audience any obvious artistic flourishes. There is barely any soundtrack to the film that isn't ambient sound from the settings within the film, so there are no music cues that instruct the audience how to feel. But Kechiche's skill behind the camera pales in comparison to what is possibly one of the most revelatory screen debuts I've ever seen, and that is from Excharopoulos, who so bares herself in both body and soul that it may be one of the singularly most immersive performances I've seen since Charlize Theron's amazing turn in MONSTER. Seydoux is as close to Excharopoulos's level as possible, which is an obvious challenge, but she plays the wiser, edgier and more experienced Emma close to perfection opposite Adele's wide-eyed, voracious youth, hungry for knowledge, experience and love.
Both regretfully and triumphantly, the film's most talked-about sequence is a nearly 10-minute love scene between Adele and Emma which, while being graphic (but not unsimulated), is exciting, erotic, tender, a little clumsy, and beautiful. It gives the film its NC-17 rating, and I regret that it's the scene that most articles and reviews tend to bring up, but I also think it's a triumph because no one has talked this way about an NC-17 film since the film that effectively killed the rating being taken seriously, and that is Paul Verhoeven's SHOWGIRLS. Another thing that is brought up in regards to this film is the seemingly endless war of words between Kechiche and his two leads, but more than anything, that's just fodder for the gossip columns and not worth the time to remark on it any further.
For fans of the graphic novel, there are certainly differences that will surprise and possibly disappoint them. A major plot point is dropped from this film in favor of something that seems more realistic, and that actually works in the film's favor, however, if how the film plays out is how it played out in the graphic novel, it would not have worked. It's best to think of them as two separate but equally amazing pieces of art that share a great deal, but one story works better in the graphic novel, and one works better in the film.
To me, this is the most romantic film since Ang Lee's BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and let me qualify that statement. Yes, they are both romance epics about same-sex love, but for whatever reason, I haven't seen another film between the masterpiece of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN in 2005 and this film in 2013 that reflects what it truly feels to be in love, and is also so achingly beautiful and sad and heartfelt and real as we watch the relationship progress, flourish and disintegrate through time.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR is certainly one of the very best films of the year and possibly of the decade, and has what is certainly to be the two best female performances in recent years. I can only hope that Exarchopolous and Seydoux are remembered and rightfully recognized during Oscar season.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
Blue is the Warmest Color is really two films—as the original French title makes clear (The Life of Adèle, Parts I and II). The first is a very sweet lesbian coming-out story and romance, which ends, as so many such films do, with the lives of the couple as blissfully intertwined as their bodies are in several long, but beautifully filmed segments. Adèle's painfully adolescent insecurity is wonderfully acted by newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos. Her seducer (not that it takes her much effort) is perhaps a trifle too self-confident—and yet not ironic enough—as a 20-something art student in becoming so deeply involved with a frightened 16-year old, but Léa Seydoux is convincing throughout, and her wry smile is both seductive and perhaps a foreshadowing of Part II. The much-touted sex scenes may seem a bit gratuitous in their length and detail (not that I found them so!) but make more sense in the context of the second part of the film. Because after four years, the physical attraction, though still supposedly strong, is no longer enough for Emma, the artist, who also craves critical understanding of her work, and not merely loving appreciation.
Emma also is used to intellectual companionship, and receives precious little from Adèle, who actually appears to regress from her literary interests in Part I, and who has apparently absorbed nothing of either Emma's rationalization of her own art, nor her interest in and admiration for other artists. In fact, despite being very clearly Emma's muse, Adèle seems remarkably uninterested in what Emma is trying to create from her images of her lover. Instead, she has become the perfect housewife for Emma, and in fact is used as such by her—both spending a whole day cooking for a reception in Emma's honor, and washing the dishes by herself afterward, while Emma lies in bed, reading an art magazine. In short, their relationship has become banalized. One of the two defects, though minor, which I found in this extended narrative of the life and death of a passionate relationship, was that Adèle appears to have made no attempt to absorb even the superficial trappings and interests of the companion (and muse) of an artist. She does not even pretend to take an interest in the artists' conversations, is unfamiliar with some of the most famous names (which have clearly been at least a modest influence on Emma) and appears instead completely wrapped up in her career as a teacher in kindergarten. This is my second objection: she is very fond of small children, who are shown to be extraordinarily adorable in the scenes in her schoolroom, but shows no interest either in having one to share with Emma, nor does she recognize Emma's obvious desire for a family. One could say she is merely dense, and just a body to her lover, but we learn at the very beginning that she is a gifted linguist, writes very well (if only for her own benefit), and Emma implores her to write something for publication; it is painfully clear that Emma wishes to have a lover who is more ambitious, and could be seen as worthy of her.
It's the beginning of the end, which is shown with painful realism. Emma becomes more remote, and spends more and more time with a fellow artist, who not incidentally happens to be pregnant. In response, Adèle begins to go out a bit with other teachers and to haunt some bars alone. (Another problematic aspect of her personality is that she makes no effort to become involved with women, despite the fact that her only relationship with a man was extremely unsatisfactory for her, that she has shown no physical desire for men, and has been absorbed in a lesbian relationship for four or more years by this point.) Emma uses her supposed infidelity—again, it is painful to watch because it is so real—as an excuse to pick a violent fight with Adèle, and throw her out in the street, despite her tearful attempts to make up, when she has nowhere to go, in the middle of the night. It is needlessly cruel, and Emma seems to be using the incident as a pretext, her own anger rendered more extreme by her probable need to cover up her own unfaithfulness and complicity in the decline of their relationship. (One explanation for her violent reaction could be that Adèle has been consorting with men, a betrayal of their lesbianism. Cruelly, when they meet again some years later, Emma asks Adèle first if she has a boyfriend, and only then, a girlfriend.)
Remarkably—in human terms—but totally believable in the context of the film—Adèle makes no effort to fill the hole left in her life by the loss of Emma. She cries a lot, but neither makes an effort to win Emma back nor does she search for a substitute. With the exception of one encounter, apparently after a long time, when she arranges for a meeting with Emma, and then makes a frontal assault to try to sleep with her, she simply wanders. It is a tribute to her acting, and Kechiche's direction, that this overly-long period of unalloyed mourning does not fail to convince. At the end, she is invited to a major opening for a show of Emma's work. She is still treated indifferently by Emma, whose love for her subsequent companion is displayed extravagantly, probably for Adèle's benefit, and she finally feels ignored enough to leave. She is seen walking slowly away, and in a cinematic tease typical of French "realism," which reverses Hollywood clichés, is followed, only belatedly, and in the wrong direction, by a handsome young man she has known from some years before, who has shown an interest in her.
Most critics have written of her 'growth,' but frankly, I'm not sure if she has grown, or merely finally been forced to passive acceptance of the fact that the great love of her life is over. The ending is extremely painful to watch, and as with so many failed relationships, there is really no catharsis. One of the parties is happy, or at least content, and the other is alone, abandoned. It was real, and it hurt.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2014
This is the best film I've seen in 2014 so far. Two beautiful young French ladies, each bright and talented, meet each other and fall in love. The acting is superb, the emotions raw, and the tension between them is palpable. An outstanding feat for all involved and I look forward to their future films! Bravo!!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
I'm talking about Adèle Exarchopoulos who plays Adèle in this movie. She is a coming of age 17 year old girl who can't seem to figure out who she wants to be in a relationship with...boys or girls. She gives in to a male classmate, but clearly doesn't enjoy it. Next, she gets hit on by a female classmate and ends up kissing her. Perhaps this gets her thinking, because it isn't long before she sees the girl with blue hair on the street (Léa Seydoux). They exchange looks and one thing leads to another and they strike up a relationship. If France had Oscars, I think that Exarchopoulos should own one. She's amazing to watch. She is extremely sensual in an absolutely innocent way. Her facial expressions are perfect and she is completely believable.
There is quite a bit of nudity and watching the very hot love scenes between Exarchopoulos and Seydoux, I'm glad they put a NC-17 rating on it. I am very glad I watched it and I'll probably watch it again...
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2014
Hollywood endures an immature film censorship click that permits gross mayhem,crude speech car wrecks and often death in unbelievable cruel and vile ways.and unfortunately it have helped to bend our thinking and acceptability of such trash. BUT....it "protects" us from any depictions of love in many serious ways....This is a film that Hollywood could never make so BUY it here in its dvd French format...IF it ever does make it to the general movie houses it will be cut and cut again by the censors till it just dies on the screen.....It is a love story between two divergent women [different ages, different goals, and different ideas of what is needed to be happy and content with your life]....Could it be a "Date Movie" that depends on your date some men may actually like it and be moved by its message of what love can be and other men while into the 10 minutes of sex will be bored....it is an "Alpha" and other relationship...The young Adele is content and happy to be a kindergarten teacher with no ambitions for "higher and better things"...the older Emma [the Alpha"] is striving to get ahead, be recolonized, and have fame as an artist....unfortunately neither can get inside the others ambition and therefore do not understand the person well enough to remain together ...it is the sexual attraction that holds them together but like after any honeymoon it slowly is not enough to hold two such different types forever...yes the movie is long 3 hours but you will never notice the time....I doubt it will turn straight high school girls into lesbians but it will demonstrate what true love is and constantly needs.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
I don't know where to begin, so I'll just say this movie took my breath away and devastated me at the same time. I've never seen anything like this before. Watching Adèle's anguish at the end is heartbreaking, yet this is a movie I could watch over and over again. Also, they mostly got the sex scenes right, with a few exceptions - the constant slapping was a little much, as that's basically a male porn fantasy. Adèle Exarchopoulos deserved every award she won and then some.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2014
Like a lot of people I first watched this for the sex scenes, but while they are excellent, not a distraction, and priceless aesthetically and in developing the story, the real value of this movie is the arc of its love story. Like most people I have been lost in that same arc in the real world and the acting and the writing here resonated so vividly that at times it almost had the directive feeling of a dream, where your memories are digested, reassembled and presented to you in a different symbolic form. Not many movies can do this, and I think one reason this movie had that kind of affect was because of the non-linear free format style of the presentation---something I see it has been criticized for. I love French movies and have watched a fair number of them, (this reminded me a bit of "Waterlilly's") so this pacing and direction didn't surprise me, in fact I wouldn't have it any other way as I think it is essential in creating such a deep emotional and empathetic reaction as it helps to suspend the disbelief. I didn't feel I was being "fed" a plot, I felt I was an observant actor, creating pieces of the story myself, as I viewed the events. The result was a very immersive, and personal experience. At times I felt like grabbing Emma and yelling at her to forget about her career anxiety for a second and pay attention to her lover; and I also felt like screaming at Adele to stand up for herself!--use your ammunition, point out that Emma was unfaithful first, and she was the one alienating Adele--in other words "she started it!" Yet at the same time understanding how their relationship was doomed to have major issues because of their divergent interests and personalities (which quixotically can also make a relationship heart-breakingly precious), and like pretty much all of us they weren't prepared to deal with that monster.
The performances are stunning, the real vehicle that makes this a special work of art. Both of the leading actresses are revelations (I am unfamiliar with them both), The sex scenes are graphic, but beautiful...This is one of those rare movies where the sex is actually presented realistically and not soft-core porn formulaic, so that it is actually essential to the movie. All in all an extremely pleasant surprise for me. I think anyone who appreciates a good love story will appreciate this movie.