By: Greg Maier
With Steven Spielberg serving as jury president, this year’s Cannes Film Festival awarded its illustrious Palme d’Or award to the three hour French film Blue is the Warmest Color. Cannes being one of the most elite international film festivals there is makes the Palme d’Or award one of the most coveted achievements in cinema. This year, the United States had five films that were in competition for the award and I had high hopes that the new Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis would take home the golden palm (It took second and was awarded the Grand Prix). I still haven’t seen the new Coen picture, but I did get the chance to catch the Palme d’Or winner during its brief time showing in theaters where I live. I had heard about all the scandals of the film which I’ll let you look into on your own, but was still slightly surprised by how forceful the emotion was from the two brilliant performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, 2011).
In Blue is the Warmest Color we meet Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) a high school student living in France who studies Literature and has interest in Philosophy and Fine Arts. She has no trouble getting the attention of a teenage boy at her school and has a brief relationship with him until the moment they finally have sex and she feels uninterested. Having caught the eye of a mysterious girl with blue hair while crossing a street one afternoon, Adèle fantasizes about making love with her while asleep in her bed. Later, a chance encounter brings Adèle and the girl with blue hair whose name is Emma (Léa Seydoux) together and they form a friendship that quickly develops into something more. Adèle, having never been with a girl, finds what she was missing all along when she and Emma make love for the first time in a long sequence that has generated controversy and created a lot of buzz for the film since Cannes. From there the film follows their relationship for a period of several years, they meet each other’s families, they live together and Adèle even becomes Emma’s muse; willingly posing for her in a series of nude portrait paintings.
Personally, I loved and was blown away by this film which is an absolute honest and merciless cross section of a modern relationship. It’s interesting how love stories about gay couples are becoming more widely excepted today and I think it’s because no matter what a strong love story does have an impact on its audience. Certainly Blue is the Warmest Color is making a statement about homosexuality and how it can be confusing and difficult for a teenager, but those statements seemed to take a back seat to the sensitivity of the relationship between the two characters. At times it seems like they are perfect for each other and other times they push each other to the breaking point. These are feelings that should come as very familiar to anyone who’s ever dated anyone which is why Blue is the Warmest Color is such a good film.
For the first time ever, the Cannes Jury awarded Palme d’Or not just to the director of the winning film, but also to it’s two stars. I feel that this was very fitting choice by the jury and you probably will too when you see it. Blue is the Warmest Color was reportedly a nightmare of a film production and supposedly over 800 hours of footage was filmed. The two actress said they hated the experience and never wished to work with director Abdellatif Kechiche (Black Venus, 2010) again. Perhaps the three hour running time is a little too long, but for what it’s worth, I believe those two actress put all of their hearts, bodies and souls into their performances and they absolutely deserve to be commended for it.