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True [Lesbian] Love on Screen
As the Academy Awards draw nearer, something that always is interesting to note is how America's biggest award show compares to one of the most important film events each year: The Cannes Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival takes the best films from various nations and shows them in competition for various awards. The most coveted award, the Palme d'Or, is often overlooked at the Academy Awards, with only one film in history winning both the Palme d'Or and the Best Picture Oscar (the 1955 film Marty).
This year, the winner of the Palme d'Or is the French film Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d'Adèle: Chapitres 1 et 2), a film that caused a bit of controversy upon release. The film is a coming of age story of a young woman named Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos). The nearly three hour film follows Adèle from her teenage years to her mid-twenties, particularly through her relationship with the blue haired artist, Emma (Lèa Seydoux). This involves Adèle coming to terms with her sexuality, as well as the issues that arise in a long term relationship.
The film has been infamous since its release. Behind the scenes, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux clashed with director Abdellatif Kechiche over his methods. The film was also criticized for its graphic lesbian sex scenes, which drew complaints from gay people over being unrealistic and complaints from critics calling the scenes pornographic. Yet when the Cannes judging panel awarded the Palme d'Or, they awarded it not only to Kechiche, but to Exarchopoulos and Seydoux as well. The panel recognized the two actresses as contributing just as much as the director to the film. It's a good call, as the film really is more than just graphic lesbian sex scenes. The film is almost three hours long, and after the ninety minute mark, there's not a single sex scene left.
This is illustrative of the film's original title. La vie d'Adèle: Chapitres 1 et 2 translates to The Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 and 2, and that's really what this film is. It's Adèle's story first and foremost. She starts the film as a directionless teenager, one who can't find any passion in a heterosexual relationship. When she meets Emma, she becomes a lot more passionate, becoming a muse for Emma and building a committed relationship with her. As the years pass, their relationship develops like a real one, not a fantastical cinematic one. Both women grow out of their original selves, and they face trouble with the changes in their lives. This all works because Exarchopoulos and Seydoux are phenomenal in their roles, each actress completely possessing her role and building such a natural chemistry with her co-star. It's an incredible on-screen pairing, probably one of the best in recent years.
Blue is the Warmest Color may offend or intimidate some people, whether it be from the lesbian sex scenes, the long running time, or even from the directorial style of handheld cameras and lots of close-ups of the actresses. However, if you do watch the film, what you will discover is a very intimate and realistic film about a relationship and all the ups and downs that come from being in a long term relationship. The film doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on issues of sexuality (Adèle is never shown coming out to her conservative parents, even though we see that she and Emma moved into a house together), something that might have been good to explore. Regardless, this is a phenomenal movie, and definitely one of the best to come out in 2013.
Blue is the Warmest Color is available on Netflix.
#FilmReview #BlueIsTheWarmestColor #Cannes #Palmed'Or #FrenchFilm #AbdellatifKechiche #LGBTQ