The Life of Adele


“Blue is the Warmest Colour” is the name by which this film has been released in English-speaking markets, and apart from the early part of the film, where Lea Seydoux’s character has blue hair, I can’t think of too many reasons why they chose it.

This controversial film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival, and after watching it I can see why – why the controversy and why the award. But first let me say this – this is the best film I’ve seen all year, and actually the best film I’ve seen for a while. The acting in this film is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It really is that good. At Cannes, it is customary to award the golden palm only to the director of the best feature film of the festival, but in an unusual move, the 2013 award was also presented to the two actors Lea Seydoux, and Adele Exarchopoulos, as well as to director Abdellatif Kechiche. The film is also quite sexually explicit, but not gratuitously so, and not for the sake of using sex to sell anything. In France the film was released with a “12” rating, while in the US it was released with an “NC-17” rating. Make of that what you will.

The film is also very long – almost three hours, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s a love story, it’s a coming of age story, it’s a character study. One thing that it isn’t is porn. Porn is a heightened reality of sex with people selected for superficial physical qualities. Not for chemistry, not for acting ability, not for screen presence, not for any reason really other than a set of measurements. The sex in this film is not there for sex’s sake, but as just another part of the expression of the relationship between Emma and Adele. They date, they eat, they meet each other’s parents, they have sex. It’s a relationship, and that’s what happens in relationships.

The plot follows Adele’s character as she grows up and develops as a person, and then she meets Emma. Describing the story doesn’t really do the film justice because it is incredibly uncomplicated. This is film making at its very finest – telling stories, and pulling the viewer into the story to the point where you forget that you’ve been sitting in a cinema for almost three hours. Even the camera work is all hand-held and eye-level, to give you a sense of actually being there. The close ups, the expressions, every little detail is captured, and every emotion, along with all the subtleties that lie between, is explored.

I can’t recommend this film highly enough. Why it has no academy award nominations baffles me, as it is far superior to ANY of the best picture nominees of the last several years (and most of those films are actually quite good). Don’t let the fact that you’ll have to read subtitles for three hours put you off, and whatever you do don’t watch any version that dubs the voices of these two great actors. If you’ve ever been in love, this movie will touch your heart. If you haven’t, it might be your best chance of learning what love is really like, far away from the absurd and sometimes dangerous fairytale conceptions of perfect/true love and love at first objectification sight to be married off like a princess to a prince charming. No. This is real. This is passionate and visceral and sometimes painful and occasionally awkward and often inconvenient. The fact that it happens to be love between two girls is inconsequential to what it actually is.

This film, like all great films, takes you not only on a journey of the imaginary lives of imaginary people, but also challenges you to take a journey through your own life and emotions. I feel certain that this will eventually make it to my list of the greatest films I’ve ever seen alongside such an eclectic selection as “Il Gattopardo”, “Sichin No Samurai”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Usual Suspects”, and “The Dark Knight” among others. If I had my way, it would win best picture (or at least best foreign film), best director for Abdellatif Kechiche, and best actress for Adele Exarchopoulos.

Go see this film!


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