When the lead character of “Blue is the Warmest Color,” Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), is introduced in the very first frame of the film, she is a 15-year-old high school junior. When we part ways with her in the last frame, she is in her 20s, a teacher.
Watching “Blue” is spending three hours witnessing even the simplest of moments in Adèle’s life. The camera never strays from her face, even as she eats, sleeps, sits and stares. Minutes pass with no dialogue. The film is scene after scene of Adèle reacting to the settings and people around her.
The height of Adèle’s emotions stems from her encounters with Emma (Léa Seydoux), a college student she passes on the street. Their lingering eye contact floors Adèle, who later fantasizes about Emma and sneaks into a gay club in the hopes of meeting her. She does. They begin to spend time together under the condition that Emma tutor Adèle in philosophy, but the relationship quickly blossoms and they fall in love.
The bulk of the movie chronicles their relationship, and the audience is privy to everything. Much fuss has been made over the amount of sex scenes (five) and their length (the first one is seven minutes long) but director Abdellatif Kechiche treats those moments of intimacy like everything else in the film. You watch Adèle eat an entire bowl of spaghetti; of course you are going to witness the most passionate of her experiences with Emma.
A few years later, the women have settled into a life together. Adèle teaches preschool children and Emma is a painter. There are subtle hints at discontent, which peaks for the first time during a scene in which they host a cocktail party for Emma’s artist friends. The two rarely communicate, spending the duration of the event physically separated and socializing with different groups.
Adèle starts to feel insignificant, particularly within her relationship with Emma. But at no point does she become any less meaningful to the audience. You continue to hang on her every word, movement and expression because that is what the film has taught you to do from the very beginning (I’m already calling it — Exarchopoulos for the Best Actress Oscar in February).
Perhaps the greatest credit to “Blue is the Warmest Color” is the feeling of emptiness that Adèle leaves viewers with as she walks into the distance in the film’s final seconds. Three hours’ worth of her life has been shared, and only when the credits start rolling do you realize how attached you’ve become.
The film premieres in Denver at the Landmark Mayan on Friday, Nov. 29.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Annie Melton at Anne.email@example.com.