Original title: La vie d’Adèle
Released: 22nd November 2013
Running Time: 179 mins
LÉA SEYDOUX ~ Emma
ADÈLE EXARCHOPOLOUS ~ Adèle
JÉRÉMIE LAHEURTE ~ Thomas
SANDOR FUNTEK ~ Valentin
MON WALRAVENS ~ Lise
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Adèle’s life changes when she meets Emma, a young artist with blue hair, who allows her to discover desire, assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adèle grows, seeks herself, loses herself and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.
Julie Maroh’s graphic novel is one of my favourite reads of this year so I knew I had to watch the adaptation as I knew that it had been both revered by critics and received serious criticism from the LGBT community. I thoroughly enjoyed Blue is the Warmest Color, but I did have a few issues.
I was a little hesitant about watching a film that was both incredibly and in French, and I handled them both pretty well actually! I usually watch films as a background which I couldn’t do with this one. I like to listen to what’s going on and look up whenever I fancy it but that’s just impossible for a subtitled film – I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I’d never seen a subtitled film before but I found it pretty easy to adjust to and I found myself just taking in the words on the screen as part of the image which was cool. On the other hand, three hours is a long time to concentrate like that and I had to switch from watching it on the Netflix TV channel to my iPad so I had something in my hands. I don’t think that Blue is the Warmest Color is unnecessarily long but I don’t know if I’ll be dedicating so much time on it in the near future.
The length of this film allows Emma and Adèle’s love story to be told against a completely ordinary background. We saw their relationship through from first meeting to tearful goodbye and it felt very intimate and real. It never felt like the actresses playing Emma and Adèle were acting; I was just watching Emma and Adèle’s story play out. There was very little background music and no evocative montage scenes, just the natural movement of their relationship. There are constant close ups of their faces, intrusively personal shots and lengthy, explicit sex scenes. It wasn’t until the sex scenes that I realised how male the gaze is on Emma and Adèle’s relationship. The scenes are almost pornographic and they felt like they lasted for ages; for me, it took the emotion and the connection between Emma and Adèle out of the equation after a while and I just wanted to carry on with the story.
This is no doubt that this a beautiful film that’s very worth watching but don’t be expecting it to be the same as the graphic novel. There’s a really pivotal moment in the graphic novel where Adèle’s parents discover her relationship with Emma and it alters everything but there wasn’t a moment like that at all, in fact, both sets of parents completely disappear from the movie after maybe two appearances. And the entire second half of the story was utterly different and I didn’t feel nearly as satisfied with the film ending as I did with the novel ending. Though it was much less dramatic and a lot less sad it also didn’t have nearly as much impact than the original.
All in all, Blue is the Warmest Color is a wonderful film that’s definitely worth watching, but in my opinion, the graphic novel is still better. You should do both, but read the original first!