Movie Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour

This film garnered the prestigious Palme D’Or at Cannes, for both the director and its lead performers, and has taken accolades around the world. Spielberg calls it “magnificent.” Blue is the Warmest Colour also has stirred controversy regarding certain scenes and the actresses’ public statements about them. In short, this is hot topic in cinema, 2013.

And, since it’s based on a graphic novel and even contains special effects, we’re going to review it here.

Title: Blue is the Warmest Colour

(La Vie d’Adèle, Chapitres 1 et 2)

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

Written by Ghalia Lacroix from the graphic novel by Julie Maroe.

Adèle Exarchopoulos as Adèle
Léa Seydoux as Emma
Salim Kechiouche as Samir
Aurélien Recoing as Adèle’s father.
Catherine Salée as Adèle’s mother
Benjamin Siksou as Antoine
Mona Walravens as Lise
Alma Jodrowsky as Béatrice
Jérémie Laheurte as Thomas
Anne Loiret as Emma’s mother
Benoît Pilot as Emma’s stepfather
Sandor Funtek as Valentin
Samir Bella as Samir
Maelys Cabezon as Laetitia
Fanny Maurin as Amélie
Karim Saidi as Kader

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.


A teenaged girl falls for a woman who attends the local art school. They build a life together, which begins to unravel as they set about their careers in their twenties.

High Points:

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux must carry their characters over at least a decade of time, and both meet the challenge and surpass expectations. Exarchopoulos plays a completely credible Adèle, fifteen or sixteen at the film’s start and in her mid-twenties at the conclusion. The feat becomes all the more remarkable when one considers her age (eighteen) and inexperience at the time of filming.

The supporting cast members also give excellent, natural performances.

Low Points:

Some stereotypes exist for a reason—like the notion that Americans make fast-paced movies with clearly-marked plots so they can sell tickets to uneducated droolers with ADHD, while Europeans make slow-paced films with complex yet uncertain plots that reach thoughtful viewers with artistic temperaments. Blue… certainly represents the latter sort of film, a little too much. I can appreciate the gradual development of character, but the film’s first act crawls needlessly in places, and the sex scenes (which have brought criticism from the author of the graphic novel—for their length and “inauthentic” execution, not their inclusion) continue far longer than necessary.

The ending also feels incomplete, after three hours. It’s sort of like watching The Desolation of Smaug, except with fewer dwarves and more lesbian sex.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The film may be brilliant, but the story is familiar, fairly predictable, and taken from an existing work. The final third, however, deviates significantly from the source material…

Story: 4/6 …resulting in a conclusion that seems more realistic or, at least, more typical of human relationships. However, in changing the graphic novel’s more melodramatic ending and removing the framing story, the filmmakers give us something with less shape and direction. In addition, certain key characters disappear without explanation. Yes, we can guess what might have happened with Adèle’s parents, but such a key development (a significant plot point in the source material) could easily have been included in a three-hour film. Shorten each sex scene by 25% and they would have had more than enough time.

Effects: 5/6 Strangely applicable, since certain moments of the sex scenes apparently made use of prosthetic devices, essentially invisible from the audience’s perspective.

Production: 6/6 Abdellatif Kechiche has composed his shots brilliantly, presented his performers realistically, and, if those performers have concluded he’s kind of creepy and stated they won’t work with him again, his film still merits the Palme D’Or.

Look for the blue.

Acting: 6/6 Wow. See “High Points.”

Emotional Response: 5/6 While portions of the film move slowly or linger needlessly, the strongest emotional moments, particularly in the third act, will be felt by anymore who has experienced a failed relationship. Exarchopoulos and Seydoux felt exhausted and disturbed by the scenes of their break-up—and it shows in the acting. It’s more for these scenes than the sex scenes that Seydoux said, “In America, we’d all be in jail.”

Overall: 5/6

In total, Blue is the Warmest Colour receives 33/42.

5 replies on “Movie Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour”

  1. I’ve heard a few things about this movie, but not a single one that says it’s in any way genre. Is it? Did I miss something? I’ve not actually read the review in case of spoilers…

    • Not our genre at all. If you read the (spoiler-free) bit before the jump (the final line in particular) you’ll see my rationale for including it.

      (And sometimes we like to wander a little around here).

      • Just checking.

        The one friend of mine who saw it indicated that it was… well, lets just say my friend is kind of a huge prude.

        • Huge Prudes should never see this.

          The review is not too spoilerish. Best reviw line of month:

          ‘The ending also feels incomplete, after three hours. It’s sort of like watching The Desolation of Smaug, except with fewer dwarves and more lesbian sex’

          Much thanks for that!

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