Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coming of Age Film of Different Colors

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) - Kechiche
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The film makes me think about why it feels different than other comparable French coming of age films. I don't want to generalize anything, but could the reason be because it was directed by a man? I don't mean whether this or that feels more sincere and honest. This film deserves all the accolades it is garnering. Adèle Exarchopoulos gives an unbelievable performance as Adèle, 15-year old High school junior who falls hard for an older, blue haired art college student. Léa Seydoux, the elder of the couple, assumes the older, wiser, more emotionally stable Emma. The three hour film covers about ten years of their relationship. It breezily moves along. There is no time for life's little details in Kechiche's direction. He prefers long-drawn out natural dialog scenes that don't necessarily signify anything.

Adèle is not some sensitive damsel who cries from reading flowery poetry. She is a tough talking, voraciously gastronomical, voluptuous girl who wants to be a teacher. When she cries, she is a blubbering mess. The much talked about graphic sex scenes render their bond more palpable. I understand that majority of lesbians don't look like Exarchopoulos and Seydoux and there is an exploitation tinge when Kechiche enthusiastically talks about his actresses 'bodies' in interviews. But no filmmaker I can think of used sex this way though in portraying first love. It's something everyone goes through and it hits home hard. Therefore Adèle's joy and heartbreak has much more resonance. This would make a good double feature with Mia Hansen-Løve's Goodbye First Love for further discussion on female directors vs male directors on 'adolescent girl/coming of age subject. They are equally great film, but with different sensibilities. I find Blue resonating more for me because of its honest depiction of physical attractions and intimacy of two people who love each other. After winning Palme d'Or at the Cannes this year, Blue is the Warmest Color plays as part of NYFF on Oct. 11th. Please visit FSLC website for tickets.