In The Mood For Love, Venus, Chico & Rita & Let The Right One In.
Each of those films are examples that aren't cut from the kind of cloth that 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' comes from. At its base is an arc of the journey from spiritual fatalism and young love as a sequitur for emotional trauma.
Melodrama is not a new idea, clearly, but neither has it been a flagbearer for a type of cinema verité that allows the viewer to go beyond the tragic and dwell amongst some unfortunate realism.
'BITWC' tells a simple narrative of a young girl (high school age) who meets a woman several years older and experiences for the first time a connection which films are always trying to sell to us. What the best films in this type of genre are able to do is to display the ecstatic giving, physical bind and most boldly of all the consequences of first love that go beyond initial tragedy.
The film, clocking in at almost 3 hours in length, painstakingly depicts individual moments as moving portraits balancing on the weight of a cloud that over time fill themselves with the burden of self doubt and jealousy. From the outset each scene glides from close up to wide angle shots and its one of the strengths of the project that the actors thrive under such scrutiny. The minutiae of such contrasting and elegant frames allows for a one-in-a-million performance by Adele Exarchopoulos who conveys, in soft monotones, a beauty and riveting mysteriousness to the role of a young lady experiencing a new layer to her being. It has to be noted that the relationship between Adele and Emma (a delicately poignant Lea Seydoux) is for this viewer at least the most stunningly realized pair of performances maybe since the turn of the century.
I have to refer to the sex scenes in this film. Around the time of Cannes, a bubbling controversy belched from under the red carpet of the opening attempting to attest to the deemed overly gratuitous nature of the relationship depicted on screen. Undoubtedly this will put off many viewers from the outset and that would be understandable. However, my reading into these few scenes (one of which runs at least 5 minutes) is that the physicality becomes a tour de force between two individuals between whom boundless intimacy has been building in a life-altering way. Perhaps the length of those scenes could have been shortened but the energy of those early passages between the two and their sheer joie-de-vivre make them as vital as what comes before and after.
Ultimately, what I will come away with from this astounding portrayal of love and loss is the rawness that director Abdellatif Kechiche is able to squeeze out from this most bittersweet of rinds. You will be able to predict the journey but once its over you will have been exhilarated and emotionally satisfied in equal manner dreaming of where the characters lives take them next...
Rating 9.5/10 (A/A+)