If you’ve ever had a model comment on how you’ve used their image in a photo shoot, you’ll have caught a fleeting glimpse of what it must be like to be Abdellatif Kechiche, director of La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2.
Since the movie, better known as Blue Is the Warmest Colour in English-speaking territories, won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the mesmerising leading actors Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux broke out of the confines of the screen and popped up at seemingly every film festival lamenting the duration and difficulty of the shoot.
The fact that the Palme d’Or was uniquely awarded to the two actors as well as Kechiche, gave their insights much weight. In many ways La Vie d’Adèle is a film like no other and the intensity and difficulty of the shoot is part of its indefinable character.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour addresses that most common yet alluring of all artistic and cinematic themes – first love. The everyday story of Adèle who meets the first and perhaps greatest loves of her teenage life and then loses it. The only variation in this story is that the life-hungry Adèle falls in love with another woman.
And the only difference in the director’s approach to telling this simple story is that he refuses to dull down the natural emotional and physical intensity of this everyday love affair.
He doesn’t fade to black as any of the bland Hollywood-poisoned directors would when the girls have dinner, brush their teeth, go to bed or make love the way young lovers do. Kechiche’s cinema is a cinema of everyday reality and heightened intensity – an artistic approach that is more documentary in tone yet still fictional.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is very far from being the sexiest, most erotic film you’ll ever see, unless of course you have never been alive, or experienced life yourself. This is not a so much a lesbian story, but an everyday human story for everyone.
One of fiction’s (and cinema’s) greatest achievements is to present an imitation of reality and make it appear more real than reality itself. This is what Kechiche has achieved in this film. This is probably one of the freshest films you’ll see expressing the existential pain of being human and being alive. And that in itself is a very fine and unforgettable achievement.