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Unique coming of age story causes controversy with audiences

‘Caroline Madden, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 29, 2014

'Doah photo courtesy of lesbeehive.com

‘Doah photo courtesy of lesbeehive.com

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a romantic coming-of-age story of a young girl, Adele, from high school to young adulthood. After becoming enamored by a young woman with blue hair after a chance pass on the street, she begins to question her sexual identity.

The film follows the eventual relationship between Emma and Adele, through both their passions and heartbreak.

This was the first film to have both the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, and lead actresses, Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, share the coveted Palme d’Or award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Both actresses deliver some of the finest performances in film. Adele Exarchopoulos incredibly portrays the awakening of Adele’s adult life as well as her character’s extreme sensitivity. Lea Seydoux is magnetic as Emma — an alluring and enigmatic artist. It is easy to see what drew Adele to her. The actresses shined, especially during their heated argument scene. Their performances were so raw and realistic it felt as if it was lifted from someone’s living room.

Director Abdellatif Kechiche gives an incredibly intimate nature to his shots, with lingering close-ups that brings the camera nearly two inches from the actresses’ faces.

He studies their smiles, their bodies, their eyes. The intimate nature lends for some beautiful images, the close-ups can often make you feel a part of their tender moments. But sometimes the close-ups can be frustrating, especially when you are so close to the actresses’ face in a crying scene you spend the whole time wishing they would wipe the snot off their nose.

For whatever “Blue is the Warmest Color” achieves, it cannot escape the controversy that surrounds it. The film is rated NC-17 and features several sex scenes — one nearly seven-minutes long — that some feel border along the lines of pornographic. There are two sides to the controversy. Some argue that the lesbian sex scenes are unrealistic in their nature, director Kechiche is filming it through his straight male gaze, and exploiting the two actresses in the process. While others argue that you cannot define what sex is for any couple, and that Kechiche should be praised for realistically showing the raw passion that all couples experience, this just happens to be a lesbian one.

Many viewers of  “Blue is the Warmest Color” will no doubt have their own opinion on the controversial parts of the film.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” did not have to be three hours long, there was a lot that could have been cut and would have made no difference. However, the film was attempting to take the viewer on a journey. A slow journey that takes its time to tell the story, to fully immerse you into Adele’s world and the navigation through her love life.

The film tries to capture an everyday nature, to be as true to life as possible. It shows Adele snacking, napping, cooking for a party and going to work. The film doesn’t try to glamorize anything. If the actresses are crying, the film doesn’t try to clean them up and make them pretty.

The tone of realism throughout the film leaves no surprise for the more racy parts of the film, which do not shy away from showing everything. There is merit to both sides of the argument, see this film for yourself to decide where you stand. Controversy aside, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a powerfully acted and honest work and one of the most compelling films in recent years.

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