Deriving its English title, Blue is the Warmest Colour, from the source graphic novel Le Bleu est une couleur chaude by Julie Maroh, La Vie D’Adele Chapitres 1 et 2 (its French title) is the fifth film from director Abdellatif Kechiche, since his debut in 2000 with La Faute a Voltaire, and it is certainly destined to put him on the radar of a number of cinephiles that have not yet seen his work.
Chronicling the transformative relationship that the lead character of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) has with the blue-haired Emma (Lea Seydoux), Blue is the Warmest Colour is an intimate and intense emotional epic that quickly banishes any negative connotations that the phrase ‘coming of age drama’ may evoke.
Adele’s first sexual encounter, that we see, is with a boy named Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte), a perfectly pleasant young man but one whose interests and outlook on life don’t really seem to click with Adele. En route to meet Thomas one day, Adele sees a lesbian couple walking down the street and her eyes meet with Emma’s. The scene is both tense and emotionally impactful, with Adele physically affected by this seemingly minor interaction. The sound of a street performer rings in the background – a sound that we again hear in what is one of the greatest uses of a music cue I have heard in many years – and Adele’s heart is clearly racing.
Adele sees Emma again when her friend takes her out for the night and they end up in a gay bar which Emma frequents. A spark occurs and their relationship begins to take its first tentative steps, before blossoming into a highly charged and lust filled romance that consumes Adele. Somewhat explicit sex scenes help convince us of the lust that exists between them and whilst these scenes will no doubt dominate a number of discussions about the film, they already have to some degree, they are simply one of many aspects of the film that are intimate experiences that we allowed to witness in Adele’s life. The film is very much her story and we are pulled inside it, encouraged to share every emotion with her.
Directing with a deceptively simple approach Kechiche manages to avoid any distracting choices whilst at the same time crafting scenes in a fine tuned manner. Blue is the Warmest Colour therefore feels like a very natural experience, further encouraging us to be as consumed by Adele’s life as she is with her new lover, but the film is still filled with beautiful sun dappled shots and edited with seemingly casual breeziness but actually with a very delicate but precise touch.
The two leads are also so utterly convincing in their respective roles, despite often being called upon to take on what many actors might consider challenging scenes or ‘risks’ on screen. Committed performances, finely nuanced filmmaking choices and an absorbingly epic scope all add up to something quite extraordinary and when the film finally reaches its achingly emotional final moments one last shimmer of music reminds us of quite how far we have travelled with Adele.