Lips. If you don’t like the curved indent of actress Adèle Exarchopoulos’ upper lip, or the small, permanent plump pucker of her bottom lip, this film is not for you.
Director Abdel Kechiche takes every opportunity to make those lips the focus of the camera’s gaze throughout this three-hour epic of self-discovery, lust, love, jealousy and ultimately heartbreak.
The film, “Blue is the Warmest Colour,” is a coming-of-age story told from the viewpoint of a 15-year-old French high school student named Adele. She becomes enamored with Emma, a blue-haired college student played by “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” actress Léa Seydoux.
The NC-17-rated film threatens to cross into the realm of sexual exploitation with extended love scenes that include realistic depictions of oral sex and close-ups of genitalia, but the two female leads’ believable relationship raises the film to an artistic achievement.
The sex scenes are not without purpose. They are essentially a physical display of how passionate and intense the young couple’s love is. However, the true power of this film comes from the two leads’ interactions with family and friends.
Scenes highlighting the vast difference between the two families provide the funniest and most interesting revelations. They indicate that these women — Adele, a school teacher and closeted lesbian, and Emma, a painter who kicked her closet door off the hinges long ago — have unique cultural differences that can strengthen or stifle their union.
Other moments such as their discussion of the similarities between Bob Marley and French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and the smiles they share with each other while performing their best lioness roar to arms at a pride parade are a joy to witness. They add to the evidence that this is a real couple that you want to believe will succeed. However, wandering eyes and jealous glances eventually foreshadow the inevitable.
If the intimate, intense physicality of their relationship doesn’t trouble you, there’s a tender love story to enjoy and ultimately lament.