Blue is the Warmest Colour (18)
The lesbian romance (to give it a crude, over-simplistic title) that took Cannes by storm is in fact a tale of passion, yearning, and eroticism combined with a coming of age drama that could be about anyone of any age, creed and gender.
The fact that it focuses on a teenaged French girl and her slightly older female lover gives it an added frisson but any whiff of juvenilia is soon swept away by the sheer bravura nature of the piece.
Student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and artist Emma (Léa Seydoux) find themselves embarking on an epic romance that threatens established mores and shatters tradition. Yet this is a love affair based on discovery and deeply-rooted feelings. Once unleashed they are given free rein in a relationship of love and intensity that burns up the screen.
Much has been written about the visceral sex scenes in Abdellatif Kechiche’s film. There is titillation to be had here but, what is more difficult for some audiences to accept – and far more important – is that it streams with plausibility and strength.
It takes honesty and courage to portray the raw, unfettered desire that Exarchopoulos and Seydoux put on screen. One has to marvel at the mindset of actors who can lose themselves so completely, thus presenting searing authenticity. Truly it is a wonder.
The film is littered with memorable vignettes, such as the stand-off between Adele and her schoolfriends when she denies her sexuality or the tearful spat between the lovers as Emma suspects infidelity.
Emotions run high throughout but nonetheless this cannot be bracketed as a gay love song. Instead it presents romance and obsession on a truly majestic scale spread over a running time of three hours.
Yet those 179 minutes positively fly by as we observe the timeless story of lovers who meet, separate and come together again. The difference here is the twist, and it is all the better for it.
On staggered release.
Star rating: *****