His “Blue Is the Warmest Color” has garnered a lot of attention since winning the coveted Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, primarily for its lingered-on depiction of explicit lesbian sex. That may be enough to prick up the ears of the dirty old man demographic, but what about the rest of us? For that answer, you have to ask yourself a couple more questions:
— How do you feel about hopelessly vague French melodramas about rebellious youths who’re given a sexual awakening at a staggeringly young age? (Maurice Pialat’s “A Nos Amours” is a terrific example.)
— Are you intrigued or disturbed when a director shoves his camera directly into the faces of his subjects, and would your opinion change knowing that his subjects were often chewing with their mouths open or bawling their eyes out to the point that snot is literally draining out of their noses?
— Can you overlook the fact that nothing much happens for incredibly long stretches of time if the movie’s actors are phenomenal?
These are the things that were running through my mind for nearly all three hours of “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” a dreary drama that charts the relationship of teenage Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and the slightly-older Emma (Léa Seydoux). At first, the two can’t get enough of each other, but it isn’t long until they are suffering from the same stress all conventional couples eventually face.
“Blue” is a deliberately paced movie, which is a nice way of calling it “slow” (the movie is an hour old before the girls even exchange numbers), and while the majority of its scenes border on tedious, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux are pretty fantastic. Two effortlessly natural actresses, you feel a little ashamed watching Kechiche exploit them for hours on end. Reportedly, neither actress was thrilled to work with Kechiche, and it’s easy to see why. It was hard enough sitting through “Blue Is the Warmest Color” without having to star in it, too.
★★ out of ★★★★
Rated NC-17. 179 minutes.
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche. Starring: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux.