Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a 15-year-old working class high school student whose mind and body are yearning for the passion of lovemaking. When her girlfriends point out that Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte) has a crush on her, she feels pressured to go out with him. They eventually have sex but Adele knows there must be more to it than what she experiences with him.
When a gay classmate takes her to a lesbian bar, this naive teenager stands out as an outsider. Emma (Lea Seydoux), a university fine arts student with blue hair, takes Adele under her wing. The unspooling of their romantic relationship is slow but measured. When they have sex, it is wild and passionate with both women changing roles and giving themselves up to erotic frenzy.
When Adele's girlfriends learn about Emma, they humiliate her with a circle of hate that shocks and stuns her. She does find some respite from her everyday life when Emma decides to do a nude painting of her. But Emma, who tries very hard to be sophisticated and smart, has a hard time understanding Adele's voracious sexuality which boggles the mind. When Emma takes her lover to dinner with her parents, Adele boldly scarfs down oysters, something she previously couldn't stand the thought of ever eating. As Adele's father cooks his specialty, the young women avoid the true nature of their relationship.
We have been impressed with two films directed by the Franco-Tunisian auteur Abdellatif Kechiche. The Secret of the Grain is a robust drama about an old man and his dream who is helped by a belly dancer and a Franco-Arab clan. Games of Love and Chance is a vibrant and unusual coming-of-age story set in the Franc-Moisin projects outside Paris. Here Kechiche gives a stark portrait of the yearning for love, community and friendship in a forbidding and alien urban environment.
Blue Is the Warmest Color has been adapted by the director and Ghalaya Lacroix from the graphic novel by Julia Maroh. This alluring three-hour drama is a creative and well-acted story about the explosive firepower of sexual desire as a tricky force that can bring both gratification and frustration, sweetness and bitterness, pleasure and pain. Adele and Emma's affair covers this turf and more as the younger girl's experience of first love becomes a rocky journey filled with ecstatic highs and scary and lonely lows.
Newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos gives a breakout performance as Adele. She carries this long film on her young shoulders, conveying the full range of emotions that are the matrix of first love.
Special features on the DVD include a TV spot.
Screened at The 51st New York Film Festival, October 2013.