Oral fixation much? That's what I couldn't help thinking about writer, producer, director Abdellatif Kechiche when watching much of this film. There is so much focus on mouths! Eating, smoking, kissing, sucking, fucking, more eating, more smoking, snot running down mouths. Jeeze. So after taking a cold shower I was able to more fully process this three hour French film and the fantastic performance given by its dazzling lead, Adèle Exarchopoulos.
The story follows Adèle as she finds herself attracted to a stranger she bumps into on the street, Emma (played by Léa Seydoux). The two end up officially meeting and developing a several year relationship that ends with Emma kicking out Adèle, who confesses to cheating on Emma out of jealousy/loneliness.
Clearly Exarchopoulos is a young actress; for crying out loud she was 18 when filming took place. Notwithstanding the obvious fact of how challenging her youth may have made the lengthy lesbian sex scenes, she adeptly conveyed a troubled young adult struggling with a very confusing and challenging life situation. The story itself isn't particularly fresh. Young love, confused sexuality, jealousy, insecurity. But this is done in such a raw and honest way. I commend Exarchopoulous on her ability to negotiate the emotions that would accompany all these events. From the mixed feelings she has about a boy who shows interest, the exciting yet confusing attraction she has to Emma, to having to deny to friends that she's seeing a woman and putting on a good face at work for kids when all she wants to do is bawl her eyes out for having screwed things up with Emma.
I suppose it's difficult to know how much of a performance comes from a director. With youngsters I imagine it's more of an influence. Add that to reports that director Kechiche was very demanding and even overbearing at times, and I wonder even more how much of Exarchopoulos's choices were her own. I guess I don't really care, as the performance was wonderful to watch. Her chances for Academy Award recognition seems slim to me, however. She's already been passed over by the Screen Actors Guild and The Hollywood Foreign Press. Being a three hour subtitled film rated NC-17 doesn't help much with getting Academy members to see it either. Regardless of awards, the film and its performances were triumphs. Here are my current personal rankings for Best Actress this year:
1. Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
2. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
3. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)
4. Judi Dench (Philomena)
5. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)