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‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’: Young romance told in unromantic style


Adele Adele Exarchopoulos

Emma Lea Seydoux

Sundance Selects presents a film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and written by Kechiche and Ghalya Lacroix. In French, with English subtitles. Running time: 179 minutes. Rated NC-17 (for explicit sexual content). Opens Friday at AMC River East, Landmark Century and Century 12 in Evanston.

Updated: December 2, 2013 11:18AM

‘Blue Is the Warmest Color” is an intimate three-hour chronicle of the love between two young women. Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), 15, and Emma (Lea Seydoux), a blue-haired fine arts student, fall in love at first sight, make NC-17 love and then break up badly. This saga of romance works with an unromantic style.

Director Abdellatif Kechiche (with his regular co-writer and editor Ghalya Lacroix) continues his concern with female flesh. Unlike “Black Venus” (2010) and “The Secret of the Grain” (2007), here he lights women with little warmth. The original title of “Blue Is the Warmest Color” is “La Vie d’Adele, chapitres 1 et 2,” taken from Pierre de Marivaux’s 1731 novel. Adele even studies this French author in her lit class. In Kechiche’s “Games of Love and Chance” (2003), modern-day 15-year-olds put on Marivaux’s 1730 play of the same name.

Born in Tunisia, Kechiche makes an unlikely claim for his Palme d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival: “This is going to do Tunisian youth some good. A revolution isn’t complete unless it’s also a sexual revolution.” If unfurling no banner for lesbian liberation, this temperate film offers a classic look at young love.

When Adele and Emma first swap looks in a crowded plaza, a street musician plays nearby. Adele becomes both muse and model for Emma. Some five years later, Adele will walk away from Emma’s gallery opening. The art on the wall is unimpressive. But when I heard a replay of that soloist’s music on Adele’s lonely street, I felt her heartbreak.

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