Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue is the Warmest Color 2013
As of this moment, this is what I will refer to as the final “major” superhero or comic book film that I had yet to watch and review since starting this site. It’s one that I’ve put off for a variety of reasons. One of which is the multiple, extended, and explicit sex scenes over the course of this three hour movie. Now, I’m not generally one to shy away from sex and nudity, but when you’re the father of a 10 year old girl who has a very bad habit of staying up much later than she should, you tend to be very careful about what you watch in the living room. But once I got past that hurdle albeit in shorter chunks over the course of four evenings, I did enjoy the extended and raw tale of a young woman finding herself through school, romance, and sexuality. And while I myself am not a teenager, a woman, or gay, there was still plenty about Adele’s journey that I strongly related to throughout the course of this film.
Before getting too much into the plot of this film which is basically a slice of life movie, it seems appropriate to discuss the most infamous part of this film which are the extended and quite graphic sex scenes. What the filmmaker seems to get wrong about these moments is how much of a stark contrast they are to the rest of the film. There is a conscious effort to make the film seem real, raw, and not glamorized. The actors, and especially Adele rarely wear any make up and her hair is done up in a very natural way. There are plenty of moments that highlight the banality of life where she is just sleeping on a train, and plenty of scenes where they are eating simple meals. But when it comes to the sex, it becomes near pornographic. The focus isn’t placed on the normalcy of the sex, but rather on the eroticism and titillation. Even so, the movie has focused on Adele and her feelings, which can make the explicit sex an amplification of the strength of her feelings and as a viewer it creates a feeling of uncomfortable voyeurism. And despite being much more explicit than the average R-rated movie, there is still a sense of fakery in how the two are posed and the angles that are shown that fall somewhere in between how sex would actually happen in real life, and how sex is viewed in pornography.
But when all is said and done, the sex is really only a small portion of the movie and when that is removed, there is still a captivating story of a young woman and her journey into adulthood. The other misnomer about this film is that it’s often billed as a lesbian movie. But there’s not really enough information given in the film to decide for sure whether or not Adele is a lesbian or bisexual. Early on, we see her first high school relationship with a guy that ends with her breaking it off because things don’t feel right. And when you watch it with a lesbian frame of mind, Adele’s disappointment in the relationship is because she is a lesbian trying to fit into a heterosexual world. But it could just as easily be that she was trying to fit into a high school world to date a guy that wasn’t right for her. Later on in the film, she seeks comfort with a male coworker of hers. But the regret is about the infidelity in her relationship, not that she betrayed her lesbianism with a man. We also hear about how she has had several flings after her relationship with the blue haired Emma ends, but it’s never explicitly mentioned whether they were men, women, or a combination of both. It’s also never entirely clear how the passage of time works. Since there is rarely any make up, and it was filmed over the course of months, Adele always looks the same age even though there are occasional clues to the passage of time, like her eighteenth birthday party, and the fact that she is teaching which would require several years of college. But it was often difficult to really grasp that passage of time in terms of the characters and what they were going through. The story felt like it could have taken place over the course of two to three years, but it’s more likely that it took place closer to ten years. From the time Adele was 15 to 25.
The heart of the movie really is the character of Adele, and specifically her relationship with Emma, and their non-sexual interactions are where this movie really shines. Adele is able to give a heartfelt performance in every instance, whether it’s their early chance meetings, her timid courtship, the painful break up, and their uncomfortable reunion. Adele is able to convey a sense of uncertainty and longing incredibly well with her. Two of the best scenes in the film are two of the party scenes with Adele and Emma and Emma’s art friends. The first is a fantastic portrayal of a shaky relationship that’s obvious to the viewer, but not to the other characters within the scene. There’s just enough tension built around Adele keeping herself busy by playing the hostess while Emma soaks in all the attention from her friends. Adele accepts the only attention that she is given despite the fact that the only attention that she wants is from Emma. The same thing is repeated at the end of the film where Emma takes herself away from Adele’s presence and Adele is left awkwardly orbiting. She keeps her sights on Emma, but an opportunity to reenter her circle of influence never presents itself until she finally removes herself from the situation. It’s the small moments like those that I was especially able to connect with so strongly. That feeling of wanting something so badly, but being unable to do anything about it. It was those moments that drew me into Adele’s life much more so than any of the sex. This isn’t a film that I want to revisit any time soon, even though I do feel like there is more that I could get from a second viewing. It wasn’t until near the end when I paid attention to other uses of the color blue besides Emma’s hair, as Adele wears blue in both of her post-break up meetings with Emma, and when Emma leaves the coffee shop, she is surrounded by blue walls as she goes through the other room even though she no longer has the blue hair at that point. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.