‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ is about more than hot sex

Adele Exarchopoulos (opposite Lea Seydoux) plays a high schooler in love in "Blue is the Warmest Color." Credit: Sundance Selects
Adele Exarchopoulos (opposite Lea Seydoux) plays a high schooler in love in “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
Credit: Sundance Selects

‘Blue is the Warmest Color’
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Stars: Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux
Rating: NC-17
4 (out of 5) Globes

A pair of lengthy, graphic sex scenes have dominated press for “Blue is the Warmest Color,” even dwarfing the Palme d’Or and special award for its two lead actress it won at Cannes. Believe it or not, these bedroom bouts are necessary. The relationship between a high schooler, Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), and a blue-haired, twentysomething painter, Emma (Lea Seydoux), is one that starts off defined by sex — and, for the former, the thrill of the very, very new.

The first half is all about capturing the frisson of first time experiences. Suddenly uninterested in boys, Adele finds herself bi-curious. When she meets Emma — first via a heated look on the street, then in a lesbian bar — Adele is hesitant. But soon the two are making the beast with two backs for six minutes (not 10, as reported/wished for).

Because it’s made by a man directing women touching each other in bathing suit areas, “Blue Is the Warmest Color”’s blue moments can’t help but feel male gaze-y. But director Abdellatif Kechiche shoots the scenes the way he does the rest: with a mix of fascination and detachment. Kechiche comes from the school of handheld realism, where shaky cameras gravitate towards turmoil and injustice. But Kechiche, as in his terrific “The Secret of the Grain,” is as fascinated by the mundane as the unbalanced. This may be the first awards-gobbling, brutally honest look at lovers that only features one knock-down, drag-out fight.

In fact, what’s special about “Blue is the Warmest Color” isn’t the sex. Once Adele moves in with Emma, all the craziness disappears: the homophobia of peers, the need to hide the truth from parents, and even, alas, the sex. All that’s left are two people collapsing into domesticity, confronted with the possibility that they’re not built to last.

In its first half, Kechiche’s restless, roaming camera follows the new. In the second half it follows the inert — yet it never stops moving. Adele, a good deal younger than Emma, finds herself with a partner frequently too wiped out for sex, or just up for it. Her copious energy, always equaled by Kechiche’s filmmaking, must be spent elsewhere.

For a jam-packed three hour film, it’s amazing how many major, obvious moments don’t make the cut. Kechiche has spoken of a longer home video version that dwells more on fights, plus Adele’s oblivious parents reacting messily to their daughter’s orientation. But this current version is that rare portrait of a couple that acknowledges that couples do drift apart — that a relationship that is once all-consuming can just lead to personal nonsense, diverging interests and that gutting moment when one accepts that the other has totally moved on.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…