DVD Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour ★★★★☆

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Winner of the Palme d’or 2013 at the Cannes Festival, forgotten by the Oscars and barely considered at the Césars, the French equivalent, Blue is the Warmest Colour comes to Blu-ray and DVD this month and it is definitely a film you should have on your shelf. Based on a comic strip, Abdellatif Kechiche’s adaptation focuses on the main character Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and her sensual and emotional journey. Slightly moving away from the original text, Kechiche left aside the matters of death and sickness tackled in the comic strip to solely concentrate on the sexual blooming of Adele and her love for Emma, an art student with blue hair who she first catches a glimpse of Place de la République.

Calling his film La vie d’Adèle (literally, Life of Adèle), Kechiche’s choice is thus completely inherent to the three-hour long feature: Adèle is the only one the camera is taking into account. The close-ups are there to track down any single one of her reactions, whether they are to the crude reproaches made by her classmates who are conventionally afraid of difference, or the meeting with her girlfriend’s family. Without giving us a clear answer towards the character’s feelings, the stunning Adèle Exarchopoulos perfectly conveys the complexity of dealing with emotional buildup as a teenager. Whilst in close-ups, Adèle is rarely directly expressing herself, as she seems to be almost constantly processing and digesting the world around her. The only moments she frees herself from the oppression of the camera are the moments of intimacy with her girlfriend. Offering a reflexion on female desire and sexuality, a friend of Emma will even say it out loud: “a woman’s orgasm is out of her body”, and so it explains the wider shots of their physical love.

Kechiche’s story is built in two chapters which are also essential to Adèle’s journey. In the first part, her models and inspirations come from classical books. She slowly emancipates herself from this influence to discover Emma’s work and fascination for the Beaux Arts. The film is scattered of references to their very different cultural and economical background, which is the weakest point of the narrative, giving it a stereotypical frame. But the characters’ love for arts legitimately poses the question of muses, and somehow puts Adele and Emma at the same level of the statues and literary characters they admire, cleverly clashing with the familiar language used for dialogues. It is thus yours to choose whether to regard Adele and Emma’s relationship as a normal day-to-day love story, or one of these passionate romances that can only exist in the world of the arts.

Blue is the Warmest Colour directed by Abdellatif Kechiche is released in Blu-Ray and DVD by Artificial Eye, Certificate 18.

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Ex-Film Editor and future ex-MA student, dissecting films since 2006.

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