[CIFF Capsule Review] Blue is the Warmest Color

[Ruby Hornet will be attending the 49th Chicago International Film Festival from 10/10 – 10/24. Be sure to follow along as we bring you coverage from the longest-running competitive international film festival in the country. You can find all of our coverage from this year’s CIFF here.]

Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d’Adèle chapitres 1 & 2)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Country: France
CIFF Screening: October 12, 2013 (6:30pm)
Release Date: October 25th, 2013 (limited)

A lot has been said about Blue is the Warmest Color, and more will continue to be said as more people watch the film primarily known for its lesbian sex scenes. However, the sex scenes, explicit as they are, run the risk of overshadowing such a beautiful film about first love and identity/self-discovery. It’s a French film through and through in the way the film has an air of warmth and passion that films from other countries can’t necessarily pull off in the same way.

Unfortunately, what makes Blue is the Warmest Color so great is sometimes taken away from the aforementioned sex scenes between stars Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. My problem with sex scenes in any form of media/entertainment is how necessary they are. Do they build upon the film’s narrative? Do they actually bring more to a character’s arc/personality? Are they shot in good taste? Simply put, the sex scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color are so artificial that the passion they’re intended to invoke are laughed away as male voyeurism.You can tell why controversy came up over the actresses’ discomfort with the sex scenes and director Abdellatif Kechice’s obsession over them. Out of the handful of sex scenes in the film, only maybe two or three of them are actually justified. These scenes were supposed to represent the fulfillment of young love, comfortability in one’s self and in another person, and the physical embodiment of love. Instead, they’re pornographic and uncomfortable for both audience and actress.

I really hope the sex scenes don’t overshadow the otherwise remarkable, amazing film framing them in the minds of general film audiences. Blue is the Warmest Color is lighthearted and contemplative, enlightening and heartbreaking, entertaining and frustrating; the very definition of French film pondering of Self. Overall, Blue is the Warmest Color has been my favorite film of CIFF thus far. There’s a reason why it won the Palm d’Or at Cannes; it’s just a matter of  general audiences’ ability to see the film for what it truly is: a magnificent love story that will hopefully be remembered for its remarkable performances from Seydoux and Exarchopoulos and not the handful of sex scenes.

Score: RH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH scoreRH score 8 out of 10

Geoff Henao

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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