Blue is the Warmest Color // French Film Review

Welcome to Queer Fudanshi. Let’s Talk! In this post we’re going to be talking about Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color is a 2013 French lesbian film. IMDb’s synoposis of the film is:

Adèle’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adèle grows, seeks herself, loses herself, and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.

The Trailer

My Thoughts Before Watching

I know this film pretty well known and also pretty controversial, so it’ll be interesting at the least. All that I know about the film is that it is highly sexual and that one of the girls has blue hair, so I’m definitely going in blind.

Let’s see how this goes.

This is Blue is the Warmest Color.

*Warning: This film has GRAPHIC sexual content and is even rated as NC-17 because of it. As such, I’ve labeled this post as NSFW.

Where to Watch/Buy:

  • Check streaming sites such as Netflix in your country and see if the movie is a available. (For examle, in America Hulu and  Netflix have it).

Otherwise….

The Talk (Non-Spoilers):

I have to admit, this movie did make me feel. Within it’s three hours I felt horrifyingly bored, enthralled at points, angry, shocked at the graphic sex scenes, and wistful as I watched the main character Adèle go through her life.

That said, the biggest emotion I felt was wanting for the movie to end. I felt every second in this three hour movie. While I think there were highlights that entertained me and that the dialogue driven movie had some good character moments, I ultimately wish that it had somehow cut some of it out or found a way to make me feel more engaged.

Blue is the Warmest Color certainly looks and feels artistic, but it also comes off as something to watch for that and only that. Watch this film if you’re looking for something artsy and philosophic (with hardcore sex scenes). Otherwise, don’t watch it.

The Talk (Spoilers):

The Plot and Writing

This film doesn’t have a major dramatic plot. It’s really a coming-of-age/slice-of-life storyline. That said, it goes even farther than typical stories in that genre by being a dialogue driven movie. This film is full of long conversations that are seemingly meaningless. That said, these conversations help the viewer to understand the relationships and characters more through their everyday conversations.

But sadly, I couldn’t care less for a huge majority of the conversations the characters had. In fact, there were a few times where I stopped paying attention to do something else like read my email. Frankly, you could easily miss lines or even a scene and still get the gist of whats going on with the characters.

The only three scenes that carried any dramatic weight to them were the two fight scenes and the reunion scene at the cafe. Otherwise, everything was just slow and nuanced (to a fault in my opinion).

Because of that,this movie feels long and kind of dragged on my soul. By the two hour mark I was done and wanted it to be over. Even before the two hour mark I would constantly look at the time to see how much was left. Sadly, this film just feels long.

A Quick Writing Complaint

While I appreciate the idea of driving the story through casual conversation, there are points where the story is confusing. The story doesn’t explain things and rather goes for having the viewer learn as the plot goes. There is no description of time skips, but we are to gather that time has passed through contextual clues. Also, we don’t learn who characters are. We have to learn through Adèle’s interacts with them.

That’s all well and good creatively but, when situations like the girl who smoked on the stairs with Adèle show up, I had periods of time when I was very confused. Was that girl a friend who just suddenly decided to flirt with her? Was it a random girl? I had no idea for several minutes. That said, at least it wasn’t as off-putting and confusing as the Brujos introduction.

Adèle

As for our main character, I liked Adèle. She was the coming of age protagonist that fit the bill and was almost something special. Her struggle to accept her sexuality, while also heavily engaging in it, was compelling. Her dream of wanting to be a teacher was charming. The fact that she was such a terrible liar added to the two most intense scenes, and the same goes for the fact that she cheated because she felt lonely.

No matter how long the movie felt, I at least felt inclined to root for Adèle (which is why the fact that the film ended with her alone and unsatisfied bothers me).

As for her relationship with Emma, it’s a shame but at the end of the day it was Adèle who ruined it. She was lonely yes, but she cheated and lied at the end of the day.

As for their introduction, Adèle’s face when she saw Emma looked so strange. It reminded me of the song “Ring of Keys” from the Tony Award Winning Musical Fun Home. The idea of gaydar came to mind and also something my high school mentor once said to me, “family knows family.” Except, with Adèle she didn’t recognize why she was so struck by the look of Emma. Or, maybe she did and she was afraid of it.

The Sex Scenes

As for the sex scenes, because we have to talk about them, they were incredibly graphic. That’s to the point that I eventually started skipping them. There weren’t that many, but the majority of them were pushed together and eventually got to be too much for me.

Honestly, I feel like the constant sex scenes were unnecessary. This is a film after all, whatever goes into the film should fulfill the purpose of telling the story. While some of the sex scenes like Adèle’s straight scene, which showed her discomfort toward straight sex and relationships, and the first few scenes with Emma, which showed their growing intimacy, had purpose, many others in the movie did not.

You could possibly say though that the multiple sex scenes in the middle showed the intimacy and attraction Adèle and Emma had when they were together.

Artistic Choices

Also, Blue is the Warmest Color is a film major’s wet dream. In fact, it’s artistic vision has even inspired followup projects like Blue Girls Burn Fast. That said, I’m not a film major, so I’m not going to be analyzing this film. But, I did notice some things worth pointing out.

For instance, the importance of the color blue. At the protest scene I started to notice all the blue objects in the film. Emma’s hair, the blue smoke, Adèle’s blue scarf, her blue shirts that she wore constantly, the blue techno room, and more.

Then, Emma took out her blue hair dye and I wondered what the artistic significance behind that was. Was it to signify that the two were drifting apart? After all, that’s when Adèle started to feel like an outsider in Emma’s art world.

To add to the artistic feel, besides the symbolism and the dialogue driven story, this film was determined to show all the candid shots, ugly or not. That includes messy sleeping, the messy eating (all the spaghetti), and the messy sex. I guess that’s why it was highly praised at Sundance.

The only thing I wish the film’s artistic vision had gotten right (besides a more exciting story) was the African dance scene. And by that I mean I wish that it never existed. It was just such an offensive case of cultural appropriation for these white teachers to teach white kids to dance to an African song. I know the point was to show the kinds new cultural experiences, but it felt wrong to me.

In Conclusion

I like coming-of-age stories, and I love stories about Queer culture and the LGBT community. That said, this film was both bettered and bothered by its artistic vision. That is the real issue with Blue is the Warmest Color. 

Honestly, I’ll probably never watch this film again and will be gladder for it. That said, I watched it and while I wish it was shorter, I’m not mad I took the time to see it.

My rating for Blue is the Warmest Color is 3 stars out of 5. What’s Yours?

 

Extra Thoughts

  • I always wonder when they have kids in movies like this that are highly sexual/adult/or even in horrors, how do the kids or their parents feel about being in the movie? Do they go see it?
  • I loved the song that played at Emma’s party when Adèle was dancing with the guy.
  • Also, showing the black and white movie to represent Adèle’s feelings during that scene was inspired.
  • But what did Valentine do when he got older?