Review: Blue is the Warmest Color

First impressions? Wow, there’s a lot of close ups! Give me Adele’s face smeared in Bolognese oil one more time and… well, just don’t. Ok?

This arty French flick is the latest hit to come out of the Cannes Film Festival, and boy it doesn’t disappoint.

We’re introduced to our young protagonist, Adèle, as she runs to school, making it just in time for her French literature lessons. She loves to read, and this is how we meet her boyfriend – a peer pressured school crush she discusses her books with.

Soon after she finds the sex a snore, she latches eyes on ‘the mysterious girl with the blue hair’, who she fantasises about. Often. And we get to see it all.

Anyway, long (long!) story short, they end up getting together and bam, cue sumptuous close-up sex scenes. With lots of smacking and a bit of tribadism. One comment from the crowd behind me, “It’s art!” Another, “No, it’s sex!”

This sexy time show happens a few times, peppered with more shots of Adèle’s biscuit filled open gob or pasta guzzling. She’s a messy eater…

A lot of the fellow viewers complained about this predicament, but I thought it a clever technique. Show us this girl in her most vulgar state, and equally Emma’s (blue haired girl) sultry smile, and remind us how love can see through all the ugly.

Another complaint was in all of the ‘unnecessary’ scenes. We see a lot of Adèle in her play school workplace, which admittedly doesn’t do much to advance the story, but does give a realism to the movie. The film could’ve been half the length without these scenes, but then without them we wouldn’t see the complete picture of Adèle’s life.

As her career advances, giving her a role in a primary school, her love life with Emma sinks. The ‘warm’ haired girl is growing bored of Adèle’s lack of creative energy and is growing ever fonder of her fellow artist friend. The shots widen and the blue hair fades with each passing scene.

Adèle’s not stupid, and sees this love budding with her numerous late nights at the studio. In pursuit of her own pleasure, she hooks up with one of her male colleagues, and when Emma finds out, she’s not a happy bunny.

A short domestic ensues, and the once sweetheart is thrown out onto the streets. It’s a cold move from Blue, and hypocritical to say the least.

These scenes, still in close-view, are very difficult to watch. The director makes great use of sound in his shots, and the film often goes from loud scenes to silence in an instant.

The sex scenes, for instance, are very noisy, and when they abruptly end we’re left self-conscious, and open mouthed.

When the pair fight, though, this after-silence is even more uncomfortable, and incredibly intense.

Unsurprisingly, Emma ends up U-Hauling with the artist ‘friend’ and her child, and all is cosy. If only she had that passionate sex with her though. Sigh.

The two meet up for the inevitable awkward first-ex-coffee-date, and end up almost jumping each other on the bar table. Still, no saviour for Adèle as cold, cold Blue walks out and leaves her alone with her wine.

Funnily enough, there’s a lot of wine in this movie. It seems to be a metaphor for family, being pulled out at every familial occasion – ‘meet the parents’, ‘meet the parents two’, and ‘meet all my artsy friends’… it’s pretty fitting then, I guess, that Adèle should be left fermenting at the bar with a glass.

It’s not until Blue’s big fancy pants art exhibition that we see the vino again. This super awkward visit marks the formal double french kiss with the new girlfriend (i.e. the devil), and much neck snogging, at which Adèle departs, sullen, depressed, and in a blue dress, no less.

The camera allows us a long shot of her walking away in the ‘warmest colour’, as we contemplate just how ‘chaud’ Emma ever really was.

Credits roll and the lights flicker on… the crowd arise for libation.

Blue is the Warmest Color is on show all this week in the IFI. Bookings can be made on 01 679 3477.

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