Review: Blue is the Warmest Colour

MORE THAN FEARLESS: Adele Exarchapoulos and Lea Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Colour.
MORE THAN FEARLESS: Adele Exarchapoulos and Lea Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Colour.

A few years back, writing for another paper, I took my seat in the old and unlamented Rialto, and tried my darndest to watch Basic Instinct 2.

The film had arrived with baggage attached, mostly because its predecessor, the unsurpassingly stupid Basic Instinct, had featured a shot of star Sharon Stone flashing a group of police.

At that quiet midweek session, I thought I had the cinema to myself, and was happily snorting with laughter at the silliness unfolding on the screen - trust me on this, Basic Instinct 2 makes the original look like Fellini - until I realised, down near the front there was a wee man, clearly someone who didn't get out much, trying very hard to stage a romantic interlude with himself.

This did nothing at all for my appreciation of the film, and with tears of hilarity streaming down my cheeks, I took my leave and went home to write one of the oddest reviews I've ever put my name to.

I mention all this only because Blue Is The Warmest Colour arrives in town this week, already with a reputation for being one of the most sexually explicit films ever released to the mainstream.

The raincoat brigade won't turn out for it of course, times have moved on, and they can see whatever they like on their cellphone screen now.

Which is almost a shame, because there is maybe enough truth, tenderness, and raw emotion in Blue Is The Warmest Colour to give even the most insular of lives a welcome shakeup.

Graphic it may be, but this is also a rapturously good film.Blue Is The Warmest Colour is based on a graphic novel of the same name.

In its native France, the film has been released under the title The Life of Adele: Chapters 1 and 2, which is wordy, but a lot more evocative.

Adele is a teenage girl. She is in her final year at high-school when we first meet her.

She hangs out with her friends, notices a couple of boys, goes on a date, gets on pretty well with her dependable Mum and Dad.

One night, Adele visits a gay bar with a friend, and later that evening she meets Emma.

Emma is a few vital years older, she is an artist, she has wonderful friends, and she is gay.

The two women start a relationship, tentative at first, and then full-blooded and unstoppable.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour charts the arc of that relationship over the course of perhaps four years.

The sex scenes, which seem to be all the media are interested in, occupy perhaps 10 minutes of the film's three-hour running time.

In the leads, Adele Exarchapoulos and Lea Seydoux give performances of the type that reviews routinely describe as ''fearless''.

That's nothing more than a critics code word for ''nudity, not all of it flattering'', but there is so much more to what these two actors achieve.

Any fool can be ''fearless'', but these two are raw, intelligent, authentic, and utterly heartbreaking.

At times I forgot I was watching ''acting'', and started to be affected by these lives as though I was watching documentary.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour will be too raw for some, and the argument the film is more explicit than the story actually requires is well taken.

But for all that, I respect this film's insight and integrity immensely. Blue Is The Warmest Colour  achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and that is always wonderful thing to see.

The Dominion Post