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aka - Vie d'Adele, La
France 2013
Directed by
Abdellatif Kechiche
173 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Synopsis: Chapters 1 and 2 of the story Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a high school student living in Northern France, as she experiences her first physical relationships.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour won the 2013 Palme D’Or and it is, typical of such films, challenging viewing – literate, analytic and sexually candid. Realist in style, storywise there is little to it, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s primary concern being an intimate study of his main character, an attractive but otherwise unremarkable girl just beginning to sexually awaken  Initially this intimacy is literally embodied by almost obsessive close-ups of Adèle’s eyes, lips and teeth as she eats or sleeps. Only gradually does the film’s attention shift to her psychological world, as she begins to fumble her way though her first sexual encounters, first with a handsome older student, then one of her female classmates.  One day on the street, she sees an older girl (Léa Seydoux), evidently a lesbian, and the main section of the film, Adèle’s discovery of the pleasures and pains of love, commences.

On screen almost throughout the length of the film, Adèle Exarchopoulos makes her character’s emotional journey endlessly fascinating, which it needs to be for one of Kechiche's concerns is to make us feel the recurrence of time and with nearly three hours of running time we certainly do this. This is not a film to see if you want distraction. Whilst Seydoux is also very good as the older and more worldly lover, it is Exarchopoulos’s candour that carries the film (the sex scenes between the women are also quite remarkable with seemingly neither actress faking it, so probably don’t go taking your Mum along).

Blue Is The Warmest Colour is very much a cinéaste’s film with Kechiche consciously pushing the medium’s limits but he also manages to pull off an outstanding character study thanks to Exarchopoulos’s extraordinary performance. As Adèle walks away from the camera in the final shot, so much older and wiser than the carefree adolescent we first met, your heart will go with her.




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