An intimate love story between two young women received rave reviews from critics at the Cannes Film Festival despite explicit lesbian sex scenes that could limit the film's distribution.
"La Vie d'Adele - Chapitre 1 & 2" ("Blue is the Warmest Color") is a poignant tale of love and sexuality centered on 15-year-old Adele, in a breakout performance by Adele Exarchopoulos, and her lover Emma (Lea Seydoux), set to premiere on Thursday evening.
The film's explicit sex and three-hour running time have made it one of the most talked-about films of the 20 vying for the top Palme d'Or prize at the festival that wraps up on May 26. It is French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche's first film at Cannes.
The long and explicit sex scenes will create buzz but may hold the film back from wider audiences due to censors and cautious distributors.
Kaya Burgess of the London Times called it "one of the most beautifully and unobtrusively observed love stories I've seen on film."
Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Mintzer wrote: "Surely to raise eyebrows with its show-stopping scenes of non-simulated female copulation, the film is actually much more than that: it's a passionate, poignantly handled love story."
Kechiche told journalists it was not his intention to make a film about gay rights, in the context of the debate over same-sex marriage which was legalized in France this month, and said the depictions of sex were aimed at depicting beauty.
"We hope that in the scenes the idea of beauty will emerge. I think sensuality is more difficult to film and capture onscreen," he said.
The film — loosely based on a 2010 graphic novel of the same English title — uses recurring close-ups to linger on the mouth of the lead actress, whether sleeping, eating, or kissing her lover, a sometimes jarring technique that regardless creates an intimate connection between viewer and character.