One of the 24 Best LGBTQ+ Films to Stream ASAP
by JASMINE TING and LAURA HANRAHAN MAR 10, 2021
This film is a little older, 2013 and a little longer, nearly three hours. That said it is a unique look into a blooming romance as the two main characters come of age, and find they have a unique relationship that defies understanding.
Blue Is the Warmest Color (French: La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 ); is a 2013 romance film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Abdullatif Kechiche, and starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The film follows Adèle (Exarchopoulos), a French teenager who discovers desire and freedom as an aspiring female painter Emma (Seydoux) enters her life. The film charts their relationship from Adèle’s high school years to her early adult life and career as a school teacher. The premise of Blue Is the Warmest Color is based on the 2010 graphic novel of the same name by Jul Maroh.
The film follows the love story between young and rebellious Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and blue-haired philosophy enthusiast Emma (Léa Seydoux). It mainly follows Adèle as she explores her sexuality, finds love, loses herself, picks herself back up, and ultimately grows as a person.
Adèle is a timid 15-year-old high-school student. While crossing the street one day, she passes by a woman with short blue hair and is instantly attracted. Later she has an intimate relationship with a boy from, but Adele found it unsatisfying and ends the relationship. When she begins having vivid fantasies about the woman she saw on the street coupled with having one of her female friends kiss her, she becomes troubled about her sexuality.
Her best friend, the openly gay Valentin, seems to understand her uncertainty and takes her to a gay dance bar. After some time, Adèle leaves and walks into a lesbian bar, where she experiences aggressive advances from some of the women. The blue-haired woman is also there and intervenes, claiming Adèle is her cousin to those chasing Adèle. The woman is Emma, a graduating art student. They become friends and begin to spend more time with each other.
Adèle’s friends suspect her of being a lesbian and ostracize her at school. Despite the backlash, she becomes close to Emma. Their bond increases and before long, the two share a kiss at a picnic. They later have sex and begin a passionate relationship. Emma’s artsy family is very welcoming to the couple, but Adèle tells her conservative, working-class parents that Emma is just a tutor for philosophy class.
In the years that follow, the two women move in and live with each other. Adèle finishes school and joins the teaching staff at a local elementary school, while Emma tries to move forward with her painting career, frequently throwing house parties to socialize with her circle. At one of these, Adèle meets some of them: Lise, a pregnant woman and colleague, Joachim, “the biggest gallery owner in Lille”, and Samir, an aspiring actor who feels out of place amongst the intellectuals, with whom she strikes up a friendship. Emma belittles Adèle’s teaching career, encouraging her to find fulfilment in writing, while Adèle insists that she is happy the way she is. It gradually becomes increasingly apparent how little they have in common, and emotional complexities manifest in the relationship. Out of loneliness and confusion Adèle sleeps with Antoine, a male colleague.
When Emma becomes aware of the fling, she furiously confronts Adèle about it. Refusing Adèle’s tearful apologies, Emma breaks up with her and throws her out. Time passes and although Adèle finds satisfaction in her job as a kindergarten teacher, she still cannot overcome her heartbreak. The two eventually meet again in a restaurant. Adèle is still deeply in love with Emma and despite the powerful connection that is clearly still there between them, Emma is now in a committed partnership with Lise, who now has a young daughter. Adèle is devastated, but holds it in. Emma admits that she does not feel sexually fulfilled but has accepted it as a part of her new phase in life. She reassures Adèle that their relationship was special, and she will always have “infinite tenderness” for her. The two part on amicable terms.
Later, Adèle goes to Emma’s new art exhibition. Hanging on one wall is a nude painting that Emma once did of her during the sensual bloom of their life together. Though Emma acknowledges her, her attention is primarily on the gallery’s other guests and Lise. Adèle congratulates Emma on the success of her art and leaves quietly after a brief conversation with Samir. He chases after her but heads in the wrong direction, while Adèle walks away into the distance.
Blue Is the Warmest Color: At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, unanimously won the Palme d’Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize. It is the first film to have the Palme d’Or awarded to both the director and the lead actresses, with Seydoux and Exarchopoulos are two of only three women to have won the award.
The film had its North American premiere at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival. The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. Many critics declared it one of the best films of 2013.