“La Vie d’Adèle” (aka Blue is the Warmest Color) is a tricky film to discuss. On one hand, the film is a great coming-of-age story about a young woman coming to terms with her sexual orientation and desires, but it’s also quite self-indulgent, with numerous graphic sex scenes that end up being more distracting than anything else. It’s a shame, because there’s a great film somewhere in “La Vie d’Adèle”, but gratuitous and overlong scenes of intimate sex make this a fragmented – but very well acted – experience.
When high school student Adèle meets blue-haired Emma, her life is turned upside down. The two become passionate lovers, and throughout their long relationship, Adèle begins to find herself and learn more about her desires, passions, and what kind of person she is. This is a story of self-discovery, and more importantly, love.
Adèle Exarchopoulos plays our main protagonist (Adèle), and she’s great, but I wasn’t as blown away as many other critics were with her performance. For the film’s first hour, she maintains a very dopey expression, which is meant to signify she’s a confused teenager, but some more range would have been nice to see. But overall, she delivers a solid and memorable performance (she does have 3 hours of movie to work with, so…yeah). The film’s standout performance comes courtesy of Léa Seydoux, who plays Emma, and as soon as she shows up, the film becomes infinitely better. She’s the perfect counterpart to Exarchopoulos’ dopey and sometimes aloof-looking protagonist, and I’d love to see her get recognized for some more awards.
Like I mentioned earlier, writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche has loaded this movie with long and graphic sex scenes. I’m not sure what their purpose was, since they honestly became pretty ridiculous. I understand the need to contrast Adèle’s sexual encounters with men and women, but a seven-minute sex scene is a bit excessive, no matter how you try to look at it. I started thinking about the most random stuff during those long scenes. What did these actresses’ parents think when they saw this? Did they even watch this movie? Did these ladies actually do all of those things? It’s just distracting and unnecessary, but if shock-value was the objective, then Kechiche has succeeded, but he has hurt his film significantly in the process.
But the film does have a lot to say, and it’s not just about sexual orientation and finding yourself. There’s a big focus on art and culture, and there are some great scenes with Adèle and Emma’s parents. Emma’s family is very post-modern and accepting, while Adèle’s parents are good old-fashioned traditionalists who care more about being financially secure than following your dreams. It’s a nice little contrast, and I found a lot of it to be relatable and quite poignant.
“La Vie d’Adèle” is a good film, but it’s unfortunately bogged down by its director’s inability to control himself. Does the movie need to be three hours long? No. Does it need that much graphic sex? No. But would we still be talking about the film without those scenes? Probably not. I liked ”La Vie d’Adèle”, but I can’t really recommend it. Watch it if you’re curious.
Numerical Score: 6.5/10
Originally Published on A Geek's Blog
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