Blue Is The Warmest Colour (La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2)

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or-winner was presumably going to get a ‘part 2’ at some point, or rather the ‘chapitres 3 & 4’ that the original French title promise. Having finally caught up with the long first installment of this French realist drama I would love to see what happens next to its main protagonist, and am hopeful that we’ll get an expansive, Truffaut-esque serial, though given apparent on-set troubles between the filmmaker and his cast and crew it seems sadly unlikely at this stage.

Controversial upon release in 2013 because of those rifts but primarily on account of its graphic sex scenes, most of which feature teenage student (and later teacher) Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and slightly-older art student Emma (Léa Seydoux), Blue Is The Warmest Colour is more about Adèle’s life than the pair’s relationship – though that’s still a big part of the story – with Seydoux taking more of a back seat during the first and final acts. When we first meet Adèle she is at school: quiet, a little bit shy, but still managing to experiment with girls and boys as she explores her sexual identity. She has changed by the end, in the sense that she is now a professional teacher, who wants children of her own, and she has been in love with a lesbian; her identity as a bisexual woman is seemingly more clearly-established, too, the writer-director teasing a possible burgeoning relationship with actor-turned-estate agent Samir (Salim Kechiouche) during the final moments. If I can conveniently leave personal clashes and stories about working conditions aside for a moment, Kechiche is a fine director, using the titular colour well throughout, and working several recurring motifs into the narrative – hair, food, for example – that subtly reveal personal development and shifts in time. It’s superbly acted by all the cast members, but particular mention must go to the two leads, who bravely tackled the sex scenes and deliver believable, complicated characters, helped though they are by an excellent script. Even if we do not get to see any more of Adèle in the future, at least the two stars have made their names, and at least this film exists. (****½)