While in Paris this past month, I had the opportunity to check out both the recently renovated Louxor theater at Barbès-Rochechouart and this year’s Palme D’Or winner, La Vie d’Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Color), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. I highly recommend both.
The film, which opens in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow and in wider release starting November 1, has been controversial for a number of reasons, including labor issues on set as well as explicit sexual content, but my biggest concern going in was its three-hour length. However, since I had enjoyed the director’s previous film, La Graine et le mulet (The Secret of the Grain), I decided to give it a shot.
I’m happy to say that, while there is a lot that could be cut in this film, notably the excruciatingly long sex scenes (which felt more like TMI about the male director’s lesbian fantasies than anything), I don’t feel it ever dragged. And if you know how much I hate films over two hours, you know that’s saying a lot. Still, this coming-of-age story is rather uneven (as is coming of age itself I suppose); I came out of the theater liking it, but not able to articulate why.
No doubt one reason is the incredible performances given by the two lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos as Adèle and Léa Seydoux as Emma, who more than deserved being the first to be awarded the Palme d’Or in addition to the director (which is the standard practice). Beyond that, I couldn’t say, but the film manages to be both raw and honest and incredibly wistful and romantic.
Given the surrounding controversy, it will be interesting to see if this is France’s submission for the Oscars, but I think it’s worth seeking out now if it is playing near you. As per usual, the U.S. trailer (found on the tumblr linked above) does not have any dialogue, but below is the French trailer, which gives you more of a sense of the style of the film.