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By Kay Quach
After winning first prize at the Palme d'Or in Cannes last year, Blue is the Warmest Colour or its French title La Vie D'Adele has become the most critically acclaimed release of French cinema for 2013.
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, this romantic drama is set in Lille, Northern France starring Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), a fifteen year old high school student who begins dating a boy she met at school. During their relationship, Adele passes by a woman with blue hair and becomes attracted to her to the point of obsession.
After Adele's first sexual experience with her boyfriend, she becomes dissatisfied and breaks off the relationship, still having the blue-haired woman constantly fixated on her mind. As time passes, Adele starts to question her own sexual identity, and enters a lesbian bar out of curiosity. Coincidentally, Adele meets the blue-haired woman known as Emma (Lea Seydoux), who is a graduating university student several years older. Adele and Emma soon develop feelings for each other, as Adele begins to undergo her bi-curious phase in their new relationship.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is most notoriously known for its several graphic sex scenes, which at times can provoke the argument between art vs. pornography, and has been accused of catering towards phallocentric desires. However, Kechiche has also chosen to depict the more mundane aspects of Adele and Emma's lives, that include consulting career paths with family members, the discussion of art and philosophy among friends, and the insecurities and emotional angst that come with adolescence and adulthood. On occasions, these scenes tend to serve as unnecessary filler, which explains the film's three hour runtime.
What defines Blue potentially as an all time great is the stand out performances by its leading actresses. Exarchopoulos' role as Adele has been absolutely spectacular. Her ability to naturally express on-screen emotions from joy, lust and despair is easily conveyed to the audience; she becomes a character that we can empathise with, and reminds us of the emotional roller-coaster that comes with growing up. Seydoux's performance as Emma is just as commendable, that delivers a compassionate yet raw chemistry with Adele. Their shared happiness is contagious and their hardships are enough to bring the slightest tear to your eye.
Overall, Blue is the Warmest Colour is one of the most true-to-life motion pictures for 2013. This film is less about the contemporary challenges of LGBT relationships, and more about the complexities of romantic relationships and youth. A landmark for both French and romantic cinema, I highly recommend it to those yearning for intense drama and a heartfelt love story.