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 Michael Bergeron
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Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color
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Blue-is-the-Warmest-ColorBlue is the Warmest Color opens this weekend at the downtown Sundance Cinemas Houston in an exclusive engagement. Blue won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which doesn’t always translate into box office success so much as artistic acclaim. Most will talk about the lengthy sex scenes that appear more frequently than not.

Helmed by Abdellatif Kechiche and based on a French graphic novel the gist of the story is a love affair between two women. The main femme, Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), has to deal with taunting from her high school (ex)friends and learns to grow up fast. Lea Seydoux as Emma may be the stronger in the relationship but that doesn’t mean she’s any more mature than Adèle.

Emma sports blue hair but goes blonde later in the movie. From then on the blue is mostly in set design and Emma’s lumberjack shirts.

In some ways Blue is the Warmest Color reminded me of Margaret (2011) in that the arc is about coming of age for Adèle. But unlike Margaret, Blue concentrates on the two distaff characters to the exclusion of supporting roles. Sure we meet their respective parents and club buddies but the majority of the story revolves around the volatile give and take between Emma and Adèle. Adèle’s parents surprise her with a birthday party that also celebrates her getting closer to adult age, but we know that Adèle is already a woman.

There are references to Sartre and Pierre Choderls de Laclos, and isn’t that what you always wanted in a lengthy foreign movie? The essence of the girl’s spectacular now is linked to their past by existence in the current world of knowledge. Adèle and Emma are like star-crossed lovers alternately rejecting each other and thrusting for pleasure in successive frames.

Blue is the Warmest Color presents the sex scenes from angles they just don’t use in American films. While that may be tantalizing to some you can’t watch without becoming caught up in the emotion of their relationship. For each graphic love making sequence there’s also one where the two sit on a bench talking about literature or lie in the park smoking cigarettes.

The French title is La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2, which suggests that even though the ebb and flow of their relationship has come to a breaking point there’s still something new just around the corner. Both actresses give superlative performances.

- Michael Bergeron

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