December 1, 2013 -- There aren't many NC-17-rated films that make it on the art film circuit, but “Blue is the Warmest Color” made the grade this year. It is like porn, but with relationships, philosophy, culture and art thrown into the mix. Still, it makes it hard, if you know what I mean, to get past the incredibly hot lesbian sex scenes, and take this all seriously.
The central character in this story is Adele (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, a French actress with a Greek family history). The film starts with Adele in high school having trouble with love. The story ends with her as an adult, still having trouble with love. While trying to find her own sexual identity, she has sex with a boy who is infatuated with her. She doesn't find the sex satisfying. Finding herself attracted to women, particularly one she sees on a sidewalk, Emma (played by Léa Seydoux of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”), she begins to pursue an affair with Emma. Soon, they become lovers.
Emma is an artist, trying to make a living as a painter. Adele is a school teacher. Emma thinks that Adele has talent as a writer and that she is wasting her artistic potential. While Adele is content with Emma, having no ambitions as an artist, Emma is not content, and begins to find their love affair somewhat restrictive.
Adele begins to feel a bit neglected when Emma throws herself into her paintings and spends a lot of time away from home setting up art shows. Adele winds up having a brief affair with a man. Emma finds out about it and throws Adele out of her home. Adele is crushed by this, but Emma goes back to one of her former lovers, Lise (Mona Walravens).
This story is basically not dissimilar to stories about troubles between heterosexual lovers. What sets it apart is the intense passion between Adele and Emma. This extreme level of passion and sexual satisfaction is seldom portrayed on the screen. This is usually off limits, regardless of whether it is lesbian or heterosexual sex. Of course, I've seen a lot of sex scenes in movies, but generally, these scenes don't show people enjoying themselves. It looks more like a job, or more like they are in pain. The sex scenes in this movie are quite different.
The acting, especially by Adèle Exarchopoulos, is excellent. Her joy and her pain are written large on her expressive face. Léa Seydoux is also very good in this film, showing a lot of subtlety in her reaction shots. This is a very long film, nearly three hours long, but it held my interest throughout because I cared about these characters and what happens to them. This is a strong film which has won some awards and will probably win some more. This film rates a B.
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