The opening shot of Adèle making her way toward a bus stop – pulling up her trousers – demonstrates her isolation and mundanity of her existence and provides the perfect plateau on which to begin her journey. Adèle is shown navigating secondary school and early experiences with men, until she passes a blue-haired woman in the street and becomes entranced. From here, Adèle is hypnotised and has a kiss with a female school friend. Following this, she visits a gay bar with her friend and finds her blue haired wonder, introduced as Emma. From here, Adèle and Emma embark on a relationship within which Kechieche has shown both the highs and the lows.
The notion of Adèle’s sexuality is particularly prevalent within the film, with the narrative essentially following her journey of sexual discovery. In an early scene, Adèle is shown in a sexual embrace with her boyfriend, where she looks uncomfortable with her surroundings – unsatisfied if you will. This is juxtaposed with the way she is depicted after her first time with Emma where – in a near ten-minute scene – Adèle is happy, satisfied and fulfilled, both sexually and emotionally. As the film, and relationship, progress, the representation of their animalistic lust subsides and more uncertainty seeps into their relationship.
Adèle’s love of literature is key to the early section of the film, however as she grows as a character, this seems to be taken from her. Instead of feeling thirsty for knowledge and reading La Vie de Marianne by Pierre de Marivaux, she is shown as being out of her depth playing Emma’s muse at her parties full of artistic intellects.
The character of Adèle is something of an anomaly within love stories, she’s shy, humble and knows where she wants to end up (a primary school teacher) right from the start. Emma, on the other hand is a juxtaposition of this – perhaps more traditional of French cinema – as artistic, experimental and somewhat aloof to Adèle. In a late scene, Emma is almost pushing Adèle to embrace her writing, with Adèle demonstrating her aforementioned shyness by stating her diary is her only writing.
The portrayal from both of the actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux (as Adèle and Emma respectively) is utterly breathtaking. At no point does it seem like acting or does the film feel clunky, the relationship between the two actresses is key to the film and it’s the strongest point of the film. Exarchopoulos in particular carries the film, while Seydoux is outstanding; this is unquestionably Exarchopoulos’s film. Every emotion; from the wonder of her sexual embrace with Emma to the pain she experiences is felt by every nuance of the character is conveyed with an astounding performance from the young actress.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is a deeply affecting film that draws you into the world of the characters and ensures their journey together lasts by conveying a deep, loving and real relationship. Kechiche has made a near 180-minute study into Adèle’s life and by no means does this time drag. Whilst the highly graphic sex scenes are overlong, every other aspect of the film is absorbing and extremely powerful. Very worthy of its Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, spellbinding in its masterful storytelling and mesmeric in its cinematic presence, Blue is the Warmest Colour is likely the most touching romance film for a long time.