BIFF Film Review – Blue Is The Warmest Colour (France, 2013)

blue-warmest-color

As with many European Art films, Blue Is The Warmest Colour requires patience. The film moves at a snail’s pace but this is only to increase the drama and tension at pivotal turning points in the narrative. That being said, Blue Is The Warmest Colour is a beautiful character study that, with its depiction and thematic stance on lesbians, we should be seeing more of in contemporary mainstream cinema.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour follows the life of Adele who, by chance, passes blue haired Emma on the street and falls in love. The narrative follows the two finding each other, becoming a couple and facing the challenges lovers do, attune to the film’s original title, La Vie d’Adele (The Life of Adele). It’s a character study of Adele and a study of how we grow, develop, learn and pay a price for the choices we make.

The performances, especially by the leads Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, who portray their characters at different ages and stages in their life. The character traits and gestures resound through time and the unfolding of their development flows.  The actors and director have been so meticulous in their research and training that each character authentic and the depiction of them flawless.

The camera coverage rejects the basic template found in mainstream media. Director Abdellatif Kechiche chooses to tell the story in close-ups and mid-shots. It’s rare that we see have an expanded look at the setting. This is a clever technique so much that it forces us to focus on the facial reactions and is another compliment to the actors who have to infer internal character actions with the tiniest facial gestures. After a while, however, these close ups gave me a bitter headache and made me infuriated as I silently begged the director to cut to a wide. What began as an interesting method of storytelling turned into a needless migraine; the entire story didn’t need to be told in close ups, especially one that runs for three hours.

This leads me to my main complaint of the film: it runs for too long. I can understand slow moving narratives with scenes that seem to have little relevance but a majority of the film consisted of scenes that could be told in a quarter of the time. This includes a few party scenes and sex scenes that had little narrative and character information to tell but lasted an eternity. The sex scenes especially were endless to the point that members of the audience began to laugh and the desired effect was lost.

As a two and a half hour film, Blue Is The Warmest Colour would have been more effective than what it was but that doesn’t deny it being a good film. It’s depiction of lesbian love as a love just as normal and accepted as heterosexual love is great to see, especially since homosexuality is perversely represented by Hollywood. Blue Is The Warmest Colour should be seen as part of your ‘cultural vegetables’, it may not be your cup of tea but it will definitely offer new narrative and filmmaking prospects.  

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

This film screened at – and was reviews as part of – the 2013 Brisbane International Film Festival