Palatable: Blue is the Warmest Color
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Written by Julie Maroh, Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix
Produced by Abdellatif Kechiche, Vincent Maraval, Brahim Chioua, Laurence Clerc, François Guerrar
Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Mona Walravens, Salim Kechiouche, Alma Jodorowsky, Jérémie Laheurte, Benjamin Siksou, Sandor Funtek, Fanny Maurin, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée, Anne Loiret, Benoît Pilot
If this cynosure of Cannes in 2013 were a tenth so tremendous as industry and press acclaim annunciated, Kechiche might be apotheosed a second coming of Bresson to deliver French cinema from its Americanized doldrums. It isn't at all, but his vision of Maroh's graphic novel narrating a sapphic romance's euphoric commencement, endurance of heartfelt dedication, decline in languorous divergence, tumultuous dissolution and listless aftermath is gorgeous withal, suffused with ambience resounding the breathless intoxication of young love and photographed with a lambence as lovely as its stars. Diffident secondary junior Exarchopoulos quits her perfunctory relationship with an insipid yet sincerely affectionate classmate (Laheurte) who's underwhelmed her, only to be rebuffed by another (Jodorowsky) while dreaming of an older, boyish art student (Seydoux) who she's publicly espied, and finally meets at a dyke bar. Their succeeding affair blossoms slowly into a first true love of mutual exploration and adoration as they attain professional success, but infidelity issuing from neglect and restiveness devastates in a week all they'd lovingly nurtured for years. Kechiche emphasizes a fundamental aestheticism with his celebration of natural, physical and painterly beauty in long, luminous shots where environmental irradiance reflects sportive perfervency. Exarchopoulos and Seydoux produce a coupled vitality that transcends mere chemistry: together, they're incandescent in conversation and coitus alike, never exceeding a realism almost belied by the dynamism of their shared portrayal. Unsparingly graphic but never gratuitous, copulative sequences in which their lovemaking's exhibited with unadorned, amorous ardor emanate an eroticism unimaginable in the quasi-pornographic pap of Noe or Trier. That titular color's recurrently conspicuous in its torrid designation as chromatic emblems: bedclothes, vesture, nail polish, ingresses, coastal waters and Seydoux's pili during the picture's first half...but never more so than its absence. Scenes in which both girls break bread first with the artist's Falstaffian mother and stepfather (Loiret, Pilot) and then with the budding pedagogue's stiflingly conventional parents (Recoing, Salée) seem to bode their respective futures; a temperamental variance benefits their relationship, but from discordance of their ambitions, a certain divarication's inevitable. Rich visual contrast is no less patent, for Sofian El Fani lenses every scene to beautify the vibrancy of exteriors, attire, flesh, solar effulgence and tenebrious boudoirs. To exploit his leading lady's naturalism, Kechiche shot a plenitude of Exarchopoulos as her character navigates classrooms and bedrooms, protest marches, parties and pride parades, and though not one among her scores of close-ups seems superfluous, the mundane vapidity that proves her hamartia is occasionally too evident. To observe such an impassioned glorification of the tenderest vehemence championed by vulturine Spielberg to advance his exploitative politics is to know nausea, but the means by which Maroh's and Kechiche's story was popularized diminishes neither its quality nor verity: love obliges not only an intensity natural to youth, but a troth and trust of which it's typically innocent.