Star – Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchoupoulos
Genre – World Cinema > Drama
Run Time – 180 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – French
Golden Globe – 1 nomination
Awards – 83 Wins & 92 Nominations
Amazon – £5.99 DVD (Blue Ray £8.3700)
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So, a 3 hour French lesbian movie anyone? In the old days of VHS tapes and no free online porn teenage boys would jump at the chance to rent this at Blockbusters. Every guy remembers the awkward excitement of leaving the video store with a soft-core naughty film with a likewise title in your Granada Video carrier bag. It was normally hardly worth it for the embarrassing moment with the clerk and the excuse you come up with for renting naughty art house films but it was a right of passage in those days. Today you don’t need to rent French three hour lesbian art house movie as its all there on the internet. Commercial lipstick lesbians in films are just that and real ones are not so appealing to men. ‘Blue is the Warmest Color ’has to make at least one of the lead two girls in love pretty and feminine to avoid a smaller audience and so a compromise of sorts but still an intelligent and emotional exploration of love and belonging. But at three hours long its hard work.
It was certainly hard work for actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchoupoulos on set. Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche insisted they didn’t wear make up for most of the film and encouraged to improvise their performances after he only let them read the script just once. It was revealed that the director would do hundreds of takes for small scenes to achieve the desired realism of the story, and his intense directorial style was deemed borderline abusive from the actress, including the explicit love scenes, which there are lots. One scene took 100 takes. Both actresses commented that the film looked so real because Kechiche pushed them to their breaking point, and that they were really struggling emotionally on set. Both have openly said that they did not want to work with this guy ever again. But the performances are strong and for the first time ever the Palme d'Or was officially awarded to both lead actors alongside Kechiche. Normally it’s the director who gets that award. The director’s realism style included lots of footage of the actresses of set when they were unaware they were being filmed. Both actresses have said their onscreen relationship was real to some extent and now close friends. This is the first film adaption of a graphic novel to win the Palm D'Or.
Léa Seydoux ... Emma
Adèle Exarchopoulos ... Adèle
Salim Kechiouche ... Samir
Aurélien Recoing ... Père Adèle
Catherine Salée ... Mère Adèle
Benjamin Siksou ... Antoine
Mona Walravens ... Lise
Alma Jodorowsky ... Béatrice
Jérémie Laheurte ... Thomas
Benoît Pilot ... Beau Père Emma
Sandor Funtek ... Valentin
Fanny Maurin ... Amélie
Maelys Cabezon ... Laetitia
Samir Bella ... Samir
Upper working –class 16-year-old French highschool student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is beginning to explore herself as a woman. She is attracted to handsome and cool alpha male Antoine (Benjamin Siksou), who date and then have sex. But she doesn’t enjoy the physical side with men and soon attracted to female school friend Amélie (Fanny Maurin) who she does desire. But she dreams of something more than greasers and schoolgirl crushes and meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), an older free spirited lesbian girl with blue hair, whom she sees around town and then runs into when she ventures into her first gay bar alone.
Adele’s friends begin to reject Adèle due to her sexuality as the two fall deeply in love and spend all the time together and soon Emma the only person with whom she can express herself openly to. Together, Adèle and Emma explore the search for social acceptance, sexuality, and the emotional range of their maturing relationship. Emma is from a middle-class liberal family and all this conflicts water off a ducks back, Adele’s family, alas, not so understanding. The couple join peace rallies and mix with eclectic free thinking friends and enjoy gay pride vents and their version of freedom.
We follow the two girl’s lives through university and then work, Adele now a primary school teacher and Emma an aspiring artist. But then Samir (Salim Kechiouche) comes into their world and Adele drawn to his caring and more stable side as kids and family life are on the agenda. The two girls love is put under strain as societies norms threaten. Emma wants to fight the system, create art and hang with interesting people whilst a home, stability and a man to pay the mortgage are on Adele’s horizons.
For a start the film loses a star for being three hours long. No film should be three hours long. The acting is superb in capturing the intensity and all consuming state that is love and the politics around it but its still three hours of it. It loosely explores the idea that lesbian love may be more a choice by being rejected by men and it’s fair to say there are very few straight men that would chose to be gay. For men it’s genetic but for some women it’s part of emancipation and dealing with that rejection. It is very confusing to men on why many lesbian women want to look like men with a butch look so to attract gay females. I don’t want to go into the butch - fem thing here as I know I will be slaughtered.
As I say the film is the lead performances and somehow they get you through the three hours. You need to treat this film like a boxset and watch it in three or four visits. Its just very long and intelligent love story that you may not get sucked into. It is wordy and there is a subtext around the great writers interpretation of love and so something else to chew on there. The sex is fairly explicit but not remotely erotic. The girls have nice bodies and lots of sex scenes but tomboys kissing each other wont have you reaching for the hanky - as the romantic breakups wont. Somewhat oddly ‘fake ladies parts’ were used for the sex scenes so to get a 17C certificate in France. You can see in those scenes the girls are acting but also understanding how they should be turned on. I’m guessing the two girls experimented off screen for the method and no doubt the director had a hidden camera when they did.
It sags in the middle like a middle aged lesbian at a CND rally in the 1980s and the love story hard to connect to for guys. You can totally understand why a woman would love another women as they 100% understand each other but a relationship needs leader and a follower and we don’t really get that here. They are equals for most of the film and both do the ironing. I’m guessing the rather camp Tunisian director is quietly exploring his sexuality through the film and the poor actress had to carry that out that confusion and interpretation to the millimeter. But it is an interesting and highly rated movie and if you enjoy your arty foreign films and can handle subtitles and have three hours to spare then you will enjoy this. If you are a 17-year-old lad with A-Level French coming up then at least you have an excuse.
Imdb.com – 7.8/10.0 (90,327votes)
Rottentomatos.com –90% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 88% critic’s approval
Blue Ray is great for blue hair, of course, and colorful gay pride rallies but not worth spending the extra for. There are plenty of extras but they are not well subtitled. Its looks great on the smart TV in Blue Ray but a very talky and melancholic movie so not one that needs Blue Ray. The director’s commentary is on the mind boggling uncut 200 minute version!
The Tunisian gets all pretentious on the layered track
Lots and lots
Lots of red carpet and cheering from ne in pastille suits.
New Statesman –‘It's a spellbinding piece of acting. Exarchopoulos is not so much an open book as an uncorrected proof, every idle desire and surging daydream splashed across her face, waiting to be edited and inhibited by experience’.
Financial Times –‘The camera brilliantly demonstrates how love feels: the slightly paranoid, deeply hysterical and hugely inaccurate super-concentration on one other person to the absolute exclusion of everything else’.
Daily Telegraph –‘Blue is the Warmest Colour is mostly tremendous, and anchored by two of the year's most fiercely committed performance’
Empire Magazine –‘Anchored by two of the most natural, committed performances you'll ever see, Blue Is The Warmest Colour is the most moving love story of the year’.
Atrhouse Film.com –‘Blue is the Warmest Color is about people, not flesh, about letting all boundaries go and giving into desire and pleasure, about devouring a lover and being devoured’.
Film4 –‘Something must be said for a film that's three hours long and remains this consistently engaging.’
Herald Sun –‘Viewed independently of the argy-bargy surrounding it, Blue Is the Warmest Colour is simply a remarkable work of cinema’.
Perhaps Norwich isn't at the top of your list when it comes to places to visit in the UK but we are the home of mustard and Christmas crackers as well as the first team to ever top the Premier League (okay it was just for the first week) However when it come's to cinematic matters then you really are spoilt for choice in the city but it hasn't always been that way. If you go back a few years then there were only two mainstream cinemas in Norwich. One was the Odeon, the other was the ABC. The Odeon offered only three screens while the ABC was only slightly bigger with 4. This meant that the majority of films on offer were just the mainstream with only the occasional glimpse of something more interesting or low key. In these cases the chances were that after a week you would have missed you chance to see it anyway. The only other in the city was and still is Cinema City, the single screen art house establishment where you could see those foreign films you'd heard about a well as the independent offerings. With the developments of the Castle Mall and the Riverside complex it was only a matter of time before the multiplex came to Norwich and thank god it did. Sadly it's seen the end of both the Odeon's and the ABC's reign in the city but that's no big deal when you actually consider what you were missing. At Riverside you have the UCI offering 14 screens and a lot of choice. There's also easy access to the cinema and free car parking although that isn't as great as it seems if you consider recent developments. Admission ranges from £3.50-4.50 for normal seats while you can also watch the big films in the luxury of the Gallery, you pay more for it but unlimited drinks and snacks means that those with bottomless stomachs will probably be getting a good deal. Because the complex has 14 screen you can normally find something to take your fancy. Of course the biggest films like Spiderman and Star Wars command
several screens. In fact Spiderman is currently showing nearly every half hour. This means that you're unlikely to be disappointed to find that a show is sold out. This would have always happened with the Odeon/ABC. The screens themselves are big and the seats are very comfortable with stadium style seating as well as drinks holders built in. Of course each screen offers high quality SDDS sound that makes the experience so much better than the old style Dolby surround that was on offer at Odeon/ABC. Of course drinks/food is overprices but that's the same at any cinema. It's how they make their money. Out of all Norwich Cinemas the UCI is the best because of their size but recently parking has become a problem. There is no doubt that the busiest time of the week is the weekend night. However the car park is always full by around 7.30 due to all the other recent clubs and pubs opening around the complex. This wasn't so much of a problem as there were empty car parks on the retail section of the complex. However all of them now close their gates at an early time which makes parking almost impossible close by. Something needs to be done to address this soon otherwise people may go elsewhere. The 8-screen Ster Century cinema located in the Castle Mall is a similar complex to the UCI. It offers the same kind of seating although it has to be said that their seats are slightly more plush and comfortable. The prices are around the same as UCI but their ticketing system isn't as good. They actually give you seat numbers to sit in, you don't really have much choice in the matter and the diagram you?re shown when you buy tickets doesn't always give you the best indication of where you'll be sitting. You also have the problem of trying to find your seats in the dark; you may then get the wrong ones and find yourself moving to the correct ones. Having said that the cinema is equipped with the new Dolby Digital EX surrou
nd sound in the biggest screens although I never have noticed much difference. The parking for the cinema is also free which isn't great during the day as of course it's the same car park that caters for the entire mall and queues are always possible. However during the night the chances of parking are very easy and this is where Star may find their customer increasing with what's happening down the Riverside. Some might say the customer service at Star isn't as good and I've had one bad experience where the screens were evacuated because of a fire alarm, afterwards we were made to wait twenty minutes after being allowed back in before being told the cinema was closing, trying to get a refund was like getting blood out of a stone. But these occurrences are few and far between. Local chain Hollywood Cinemas took over the Odeon complex about 18 months ago and they are still going strong. They have the best prices in town for mainstream films but they also suffer from having the old style presentation to offer. The seats aren't as good and the sound definitely isn't nowhere near the other two mainstream cinemas in town. But then again this cinema seems to cater for families and those who don't like the deafening sound on offer in a new digital environment. Their drinks and snacks are also cheaper which is a rarity. Although I'm more for the best presentation of a film there is a need for the likes of Hollywood and some praise must go to them for campaigning to get the Spiderman certificate reduced to a PG/PG12 in most parts of Norfolk. Now the youngsters can see Spiderman and not just look at the back of cereal packets. The Hollywood also has a small car park but having said that there are plenty of places to park nearby and chances are it won't cost you anything. Finally you have Cinema City, the art house alternative that shows the smaller films that you don't normally find elsewhere. Of course this is som
ewhere you won't find the mainstream audience but if you want to see films that aren't just effects and actually tell solid stories then this is the place. The cinema is a bit old fashioned, the seats aren't the best but that's part of the character of the place. Parking isn't the best as there are many car parks in close walking distance. This is because the cinema is located very close to the City centre. However admission is quite reasonable depending on what time of day you go. Not only that but it's the only cinema that sells Mars bars and if that ain't a recommendation then I don't know what is. Occasionally you may also find a guest speaker attending a screening. So I'm all for the multiplex and I'm glad Norwich finally got round to it. Otherwise the chance of seeing Apocalypse Now on the big screen would have been a distant dream.