Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color

Based on the graphic novel Blue Angel by Julie Maroh, La Vie d’Adele Chaptires 1 & 2 (Blue is the Warmest Colour) is the story of a teenage high school student who meets a blue-haired art student as they would engage into a lesbian love affair. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and screenplay by Ghalia Lacroix from a screen story by Kechiche, the film is an exploration into a young woman’s life as she falls for another girl where they engage into a very intense relationship. Starring Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. La Vie d’Adele Chaptires 1 & 2 is an engrossing yet exhilarating film from Abdellatif Kechiche.

The film is essentially a love story set in two chapters in the life of a young woman named Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) whose encounter with a blue-haired art student named Emma (Lea Seydoux) would force this young woman to engage into a lesbian love affair that has its ups and downs. Notably as the first half of the story is about Adele trying to figure out her sexual identity as a junior in high school where she eventually meets Emma at a gay bar where the two fall in love. Its second half takes place years later where Adele is a teacher and Emma is an artist who are both trying to maintain their relationship though there are things that happen. It’s a film that doesn’t have much plot yet screenwriter Ghalia Lacroix does take her time to flesh out the characters as it is largely told from Adele’s perspective.

Notably as Adele is this young woman who is just someone that is just trying to understand the idea of sex as she has friends who notices that another student in Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte) is interested in her. The two would have sex but Adele isn’t impressed as her first encounter with Emma lingers in her mind where Adele even ponders if she’s a lesbian when another girl kisses her. Through a gay classmate of hers, Adele would venture into that world she would meet Emma and the two hit it off as they have this relationship that is intense though Adele isn’t sure if she should tell her parents while her friends are questioning her. By the film’s second half where the two women are living together, things get complicated when Emma’s art life starts to flourish as Adele feels left out and questions about herself. Even where she does things that causes problems as it all plays to not just Adele’s growth as a woman but also the fact that Emma is unaware of how fast things for her are moving.

The direction of Abdellatif Kechiche is quite entrancing for not just the simplicity of the presentation but also for its intimacy where he uses a lot of close-ups and medium shots to play into this growing romance between two women. Notably as Kechiche goes for a loose style with hand-held cameras to play into this growing development as it was shot in Lille and other towns in France to get an idea of a woman growing up from a suburban environment to a city as an adult. There’s also a lot of things that Kechiche does to play into this intimacy where he uses blue as a color pastiche in things like jeans, earrings, and fingernails to play into that idea of youth that Adele and Emma are part of until the second half where the color isn’t as prevalent.

The film also features some sex scenes that are graphic but only in its intensity to play into how much Adele and Emma love each other. The sex scenes do contain images that does push boundaries on what can be shown though nothing to graphic is unveiled. Yet, they’re the moments in film that play into the love story as it also goes into the third act when Adele and Emma are starting to have problems that includes some heartbreaking scenes that play into that. Kechiche would have the camera be presented in a medium or wide shot to showcase that disintegration including the last sequence in the film. Overall, Kechiche creates a very powerful and rapturous film about two women falling in love.

Cinematographer Sofian El Fani does excellent work with the cinematography where it‘s mostly straightforward in many of the exterior shots to present a natural feel with bits of blue often shown in its first half while going for more stylish lights and such in some of the film‘s nighttime scenes. Editors Sophie Brunet, Ghalia Lacroix, Albertine Lastera, Jean-Marie Lengelle, and Camille Toubkis do terrific work with the editing as it‘s largely stylized with its jump-cuts to play into the romance between Adele and Emma where things do slow down and get less stylized in its second half.

Set decorators Coline Debee and Julia Lemaire do nice work with the set dressing in some of the places such as the homes that Adele and Emma lived in during their love affair. Sound editor Fabien Pouchet does superb work with some of the sound to present a mostly natural approach while using it to enhance some of the music that is played on location. Music supervisor Elise Luguren creates a wonderful soundtrack that features a wide array of music from indie, reggae, dance, electronic music, French pop, and Latin music to play into the worlds Adele and Emma encounter as a lot of it is played on location.

The casting by Sophie Blanvillain and Bahijja El Amrani is fantastic as it features some notable small roles from Aurelien Recoing and Catherine Salee as Adele’s parents, Anne Loiret and Benoit Pilot in their respective roles as Emma’s mother and stepfather, Sandor Funtek as Adele’s gay friend Valentin, Mona Walravens as Emma’s old girlfriend Lise, Salim Kechiouche as an aspiring actor Adele meets at her party with Emma, Jeremie Laheurte as Adele’s high school lover Thomas, and Stephane Mercoyrol as the art dealer Joachim who would raise interest into Emma’s artwork.

Finally, there’s the performances of Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux as they give outstanding performances in their respective roles as Adele and Emma. Seydoux adds this energy to someone who is experienced and ambitious but also caring when it comes to guiding Adele until the film’s second half where she is wrapped up in her own world as she has this intensity that is fierce to watch. Exarchopoulos is the film’s real breakthrough in the way she explores her growth from a sexually-confused teenage girl to an emotionally-confused young woman as she deals with growing pains and such as she allows the audience to follow everything she does as well as the bad decisions she makes. Exarchopoulos and Seydoux are really the highlights of the film in the way they present a love story that is innocent and intense as well as chaotic at times as they give performances that are just unforgettable to watch.

La Vie d’Adele Chaptires 1 & 2 is a tremendous yet evocative film from Abdellatif Kechiche that features remarkable performances from Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. The film is definitely one of the most engaging yet realistic portraits of a love affair that grew out of curiosity and then gets intense when reality occurs. Most notably as it is also a coming-of-age film of sorts as well as a love story that is ravishing as well as heartbreaking. In the end, La Vie d’Adele Chaptires 1 & 2 is a spectacularly rich film from Abdellatif Kechiche.

Abdellatif Kechiche Films: (La Faute a Voltaire) - (Games of Love and Chance) - (The Secret of the Grain) - (Black Venus)

© thevoid99 2013


TheVern said...

Very nice review. The use of the color blue was nicely used throughout the feature. I liked seeing it displayed somehow in mostly every scene they are in together. The acting by the two leads was good because they really bared all. Not just clothes.

Anonymous said...

I need this movie in my life so badly right now! I fear I won't see it till the DVD release :-(

thevoid99 said...

@The Vern-It was a better film than I thought it would be and for the fact that it was 3 hours long. It didn't feel like that at all. It's already in my top 5 films of the year.

@Fisti-If you can find at your nearest art-house theater. It's definitely worth it. Especially if you see how many people are willing to walk out on something so brilliant as I think I only saw a few who walked out on the sex scenes.

Alex Withrow said...

Lovely review. So glad you liked this one as much as me. It is definitely in my Top 5 of the year right now too. Adèle Exarchopoulos was nothing short of superb.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex Withrow-Right now, the film is in my top 5 films of 2013. It blew me away. I really hope to see more of Adele Exarchopoulos in the future.