Opening 19 Dec 2013
Writing credits: Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix, Julie Maroh
Principal actors: Léa Seydoux, Adéle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée
We follow Adéle as she emerges from being a shy teenager to falling in love, suffering disappointments, becoming a teacher, and finding her footing as a young adult. Director Abdellatif Kechiche commented that, “While I was directing a prior film L’Esquive, I met several teachers who were completely submerged in their profession, who had a passion for their subject, whether history or art, and who could inspire their students.” He continues to say that this was so intriguing that he wanted to pursue this topic in his next film. This became possible when he came upon the comic series Le Bleu est uné couleur chaude by Julie Maroh, which is the background for the present film. Adéle (called Clémentine in the comics) experiences her first love with Thomas. But Emma is something else – she of the blue hair; instantly obvious in any crowd. Adéle falls for Emma, and we witness their love in close-up shots of copulation (rated for 17 and older). Emma is firmly established in her profession and in her self-confidence. She guides Adéle throughout the love affair. Basically that’s the story.
The actresses are so natural that we feel we know them. They shine apart from others: Valentin, a gay Asian boy; Adéle’s parents Catherine and Vincent; Lise, a pregnant girlfriend. They celebrate her 18th birthday; they eat oysters and spaghetti. It is never boring, and the almost three hours never seem to be too long. On the contrary, we wish it would continue and are sorry to leave our seats in the cinema. We never care that this is a film about lesbians. It’s so perfectly all-encompassing that we forget that this is homosexual love. As they say in the film, “Love has no sex, no matter what everyone else says.”
This film won the Palme d’Or (first prize) at the 2013 Cannes film festival. There must be something to it, some subtle hold it has on the viewer, although it’s difficult to pinpoint what that “something” is. Since writing this, I have read at least 10 other reviews and all agree that the film is special, but putting this into words seems difficult for all of us. You’ll have to go and see for yourselves. (Becky Tan)