I can easily say that the performances of Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the warmest colour are exactly
what my drama teachers have been trying to teach me in the past three months: “just be”.
The absolute revelation and star of this film is Exarchopoulos, who only just turned 21 and who pierces the screen with her humanness and generosity. She plays Adèle, a French lycée student who does not feel quite as passionate about her new boyfriend as he does for her, and who would rather read books than be told how to analyse them in class. One of her favourite meals is spaghetti Bolognese, prepared with love by her father. One day, she meets blue haired Emma, an art student a few years older than her, who turns her world upside down and helps her discover true love and passion.
One must note that this love story is not just a lesbian love story. This story is definitely first and foremost about two people. Kechiche chooses to focus his camera in on faces instead of bodies, which makes it surprising when we finally see an entire silhouette. It is as if this surprise actually reminds us that the leads’ bodies are female! Emma’s short hair and Adèle’s sometimes rough facial traits make the perception of gender fall away. Furthermore, for the longest time, I imagined Adèle’s figure to be curvier (she does mention how much she loves to eat!) than it actually is. It was also difficult to see what characters were wearing, until their attire became the richest element of a scene.
We have heard in the press that the filmmaker spent many more weeks than planned to finalise his work with the two actresses. I can only imagine that this helped the exquisite precision in his scenes, be it from a character eating from a messy spaghetti plate, nasal mucus flowing down a chin or even a cigarette ash lying on a cheek. The naturalistic dialogues make the love story universal, even though it clearly takes place in northern France, with a high school at the basis of Adèle’s evolution. Imperfections which are present in everyday life constantly appear in this picture and become what make the characters so real. Oddly, the only unrealistic element I noticed was both lead characters’ pubic areas being completely waxed.
Of course it is during their sexual encounters that Emma and Adèle’s feminine bodies are properly exposed, but I also enjoyed discovering Adèle’s feminity while she was dancing. There were plenty of dancing events in this film: a demonstration, the gay pride, a birthday party, Emma’s art party, a salsa bar and even a kindergarden. This is where Adèle’s body’s individuality came out to me the most, if one doesn’t count the many close-ups on her face.
This film is a stylistic phenomenon. No wonder Adèle and Léa are now posing for Miu Miu and are apparently campaigning to compete at the Oscars. Adèle’s acting is simply splendid and I wish for her to work with more great directors who will bring out more of her true self.