Pride Month: Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Sexual and emotional identity is a lot to wrestle with at a young age. It’s not something that can be defined within another person or specifically pinpointed. Blue Is the Warmest Color shows us identity being chased over the course of three hours. No storylines are falsely attached to trick the audience into thinking identity can easily be found over the course of a relationship. Ambiguity is a constant of life.
Adèle is an awkward young girl from a middle-class upbringing that, like almost every young high school girl, doesn't know what she wants. She goes on a date with a decent guy that she has interest in, but doesn't form any strong feelings. Adèle even has sex with him simply because he got upset about not seeing her. She immediately realizes that it didn't do anything for her at all. She’s growing. She’s developing. Everything is up in the air and she isn’t sure what’s right for her, still in need to find her personal identity.
Blue locks on a girl burst through a crowded area and catch Adèle’s eyes immediately. The blue hair belongs to the chatty and bubbly Emma. A confident, older art school student that is from a high-class upbringing. She's charming, cocky and knows what she wants.
They immediately click and fall in love. With their love comes unflinching portrayals of sex, which is where much controversy has caught the film. It’s gotten claims of being too obvious in regards to the male gaze; I assume because of the length of the first sex scene. Even if the scene had been cut down, it still would have gotten flack for being lesbian sex directed by a male. Regardless, the sex scenes are stark and dripping with desire.
The two main love scenes we observe are after very pivotal moments in a relationship: The first kiss and meeting the parents. Instead of giving a long and detailed lovey-dovey scene with either one's parents, we are treated to more lust than introduction. It jump cuts from their first kiss to both of them being completely naked. It jump cuts from their parents' smiling faces to them in the throes of passion. While sex is one of the most important aspects of any relationship, their relationship seems solely based on their sexual lust for one another.
Blue separates itself from other tales of romance by having an unconstrained runtime of three hours and remains captivating throughout. Adèle’s mishaps, heartbreak and malaise for romantic interest is felt appropriately and not skipped over. Director Abdellatif Kechiche positions the screenplay to exist as an extensive snapshot of a time this person found and lost love, and how it will impact her life moving forward. Blue is the Warmest Color uses it's runtime to completely engulf you in the lives of primarily Adèle, but also Emma. When either one is hurt, you understand why. When something doesn't feel right, you can tell. You are one with the characters. Character development isn't dealt with heavy-handed exposition, you learn who they are by their actions and reactions with others.
It’s more than a lesbian love story bound in confusion with our main character, it’s a study in raw human nature and why we do what we do. While Adèle didn't know what she wanted in another person, her problems stemmed from not knowing herself at all. She even tells Emma that she lives to love her and she is her source of happiness. To which Emma says she needs a life outside of their relationship and everything comes falling down from there. Emma knows herself and what she wants in life and that attracts Adèle because she is lost in nearly every aspect of her life. Emma is her vision of a manic pixie dream girl, but eventually, Emma doesn’t want to remain being her muse or her lifeline.
It’s a masterpiece of lustrous realism with Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos giving two of the best performances of the past decade. It's the most expansive and realistic tale of romance I've ever seen, having never been more moved by a relationship depicted on screen.
More than show you a relationship and how it can split at uncertain seems (à la Blue Valentine), Blue Is the Warmest Color’s ultimate takeaway centers on how love can and will change you. How someone breaks off from you and lives with your memories and secrets forever. They just become another chapter of your life and the only thing left to do is walk away. As painful as that might be.