Blue is the Warmest Color is one of the most romantic movies I can think of, often times transcending what we normally expect from a “love story,” and on numerous occasions becoming something else entirely – a direct peek into another person’s soul. The film operates as a raw and incredibly open glimpse of a woman experiencing a sexual and spiritual awakening filled with both her innermost desires and deepest uncertainties, while unfolding with aesthetic grace and narrative simplicity, and is guided by two of the most fearless performances that I’ve ever seen from any actor or actress in my lifetime. Adele Exarchopoulous and Lea Sedoux are absolutely astonishing in Blue is the Warmest Color, allowing the audience to get to know them in ways that are rarely allowed, and letting their love affair blossom in a way that feels both unexpected and strangely familiar.
Writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche favors naturalism above all else, and he’s clearly fascinated with the daily minutiae of everyday life. As his camera fixes its stare on his characters, you get the sense that he’s a filmmaker who’s constantly searching for that perfect moment of clarity, that one particular beat where you can say to yourself that you’ve captured life at its purest on camera. This film reminds you that love is irrational and unexpected, and hits us in various forms and shapes and sizes, at any moment that it chooses, and that when we’re least expecting it, our lives can forever be altered by just a glance at the right, or wrong, person. Blue is the Warmest Color is also a well-observed study of human behavior, and how we act and react in a variety of situations and contexts. What does it mean to love and what does it mean to know when your love isn’t enough for another person? Are we allowed to choose how we feel, or is everything predetermined no matter how spontaneous we try to be?
Every kiss in this film is felt, every bite of food or sip of wine is tasted, and every moment is savored as if it might be the last. The sexuality on display will leave many people speechless; you become privy to two people exploring the boundaries of themselves and one another, and in those deeply personal moments, you feel as if you’re in that room with them, a curious observer to something private and extraordinary. Everything in Blue is the Warmest Color feels real, which is why I immediately responded to it, and have found myself drawn back to its various mysteries and charms, despite the leisurely pace and hefty run-time. There’s a lover’s quarrel that feels as scary and as intense as any cinematic fight has ever felt, or at least that I’ve seen, and it’s shockingly believable and phenomenally sad because every verbal sling feels like an honest dent in the armor. This is a heavy duty piece of cinema, a work unafraid to go to some emotionally draining places, but because all of it feels so honest and refreshingly alive, even the most harrowing moments are counterbalanced by something uniquely graceful and optimistic. Available on Criterion Blu-ray.