Love is a cruel mistress; taking over our mind, life and body, making us laugh then cry until snot runs into our mouth, unsure whether it will leave us panting on the floor in rapturous ecstasy or devastation. And all this can begin with a simple passing glance. At least that is how naive, young Adèle found herself thrust into the revelatory relationship with the blue-haired Emma in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Colour.
Between winning this year’s Palme d’Or and the 12-minute lesbian sex scenes, Kechiche has certainly gained a fair amount of exposure for this film and, emerging almost three hours later, it is easy to see why.
Following Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) from an uncertain teenager to a confident young woman, Blue is the Warmest Colour is, in every sense, an intimate portrait of the ways in which love can catch us unexpected and once it does, it is a difficult state to shake. Emma (Léa Seydoux) is the blue haired beauty who sparks Adèle’s infatuation. Artistic, mysterious and forbidden, Emma initiates Adèle into her world and her bed, before long she becomes her muse. Their relationship escalates to something that is truly beautiful to watch, from Adèle’s smile to Emma’s loving glances, the chemistry between the two actresses is magic.
Flesh and food are recurrent themes, from arse grabbing and oyster eating (not entirely a euphemism) to Adèle’s voracious appetite for devouring anything she enjoys whether it be literature, spaghetti or Emma. So let’s talk about sex, because these ladies certainly enjoy it, in all its gloriously loud and spanking form.
Gaining notoriety for the somewhat meticulous, close-up attention the male director pays to the bedroom aspect of their relationship, for me, while the scenes are indeed long and frequent, they are not there to be gratuitous or even pornographic but instead demonstrate the unabashed freedom they both enjoy through intimacy with the woman they love. And such unadulterated behaviours are surely only to be admired?
In keeping with Emma’s artistic influence, blue seeps into the frame, over time removing itself from her once bohemian hair into Adèle’s grown-up wardrobe. Tightly structured, Kechiche never lets the trajectory of their relationship out of his sight, winding through their passions from love to lust, sadness to anger, to deliver us to their final destination in an almost circular manner. Despite the film’s length, it never feels overlong and in fact by the end, I was so comfortable in their lives and bedroom I would happily have stayed longer. Because that is what happens when you’re in love, even if it is with a film.
Fearless and unashamedly lustful, Blue is the Warmest Colour is an astonishing film, brave and uninhibited in its approach to that kind of enrapturing love that can catch us unawares.
The 57th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, takes place until 20 October 2013. View the programme online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff