|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||La vie d`Adèle|
|Production country:||Frankreich 2013|
|Running time:||Approx. 179 min.|
Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) leads a fairly unexciting teenage life. She likes to read, talk about boys with her friends, and dreams of becoming a teacher one day. With her handsome classmate Thomas she seems to have found her first love. But Adèle soon realizes that she is feeling something. That certain tingle she felt when she saw a young woman with short, blue-dyed hair on the street or when she is kissed completely unexpectedly by a classmate. When Adèle meets the fascinating stranger (Léa Seydoux) again by chance, her emotional world is finally turned completely upside down. Because the artist Emma triggers an unexpected passion in the young girl. What she initially thinks is sexual experimentation soon develops into a committed relationship and a great love. It is a relationship in which both women grow close over the years and threaten to grow apart at the same time.
With his film adaptation of the award-winning graphic novel Blue is a Warm Color by Julie Maroh, director Abdelatif Kechiche (Couscous with Fish) has struck a chord with festival juries, feature critics and arthouse aficionados. The film was showered with praise at Cannes that only a perfect masterpiece deserves. That the film is just that, is also the opinion of many national and international critics. Of course, such an assessment is always in the eye of the beholder. Still, such an outpouring of positive verdicts suggests that this love story must truly be an infallible masterpiece.
That, however, is only partially the case. It is undeniable that the two leading actresses deliver great, very brave and above all absolutely authentic performances. The two women, but most especially Adèle Exarchopoulos, completely disappear behind their roles, turning these fictional characters into tangible and very real-seeming characters to whom it's easy to build an emotional connection as the story progresses. The production also comes across as very lifelike and intense in its own right. That a great love with all its ups and downs is presented so free of kitsch and trivializing dramaturgy is truly a rarity in cinema. This is not really pleasant to watch, but it has an enormous emotional power.
This makes it understandable why so many use the word masterpiece here. But standing in the way of this is Abdellatif Kechiche's production, which at times seems a little self-indulgent and unnecessarily drawn out. As already said, it can't be denied that the filmmaker knows how to conjure up scenes of enormous authenticity on the screen and to get an unbelievable naturalness and informality out of his actors. But like in Couscous mit Fisch, he again drags out many rather trivial moments almost unbearably. Why we are supposed to watch Adèle and her family eat for minutes on end, why the unsteady camera has to follow the girl endlessly on a demo, or why a party that Adèle and Emma are hosting together has to be shown virtually in real time, remains a mystery. Maybe this is great art in the eyes of some. To others, however, it's completely unnecessary tedium. This is not to say that these scenes are unnecessary in and of themselves. Quite the contrary. But they could all have been presented in a much more condensed fashion without the film losing any of its intensity.
The same can be said for the sex scenes, which have provided a lot of excitement. While they may not be the most explicit sex scenes seen in contemporary arthouse cinema in recent years, they are certainly the most detailed. Once again, the director demonstrates a good hand for aesthetics and naturalness. He shows the act of love between the two women in all clarity, but still does not seem voyeuristic. However, it is also true here that temporally less would have been more then.
Blue is a warm color is a great and intense, but at the same time a very bulky and far too tough film, whose length would have been dramaturgically unnecessary and which can not be excused as an artistically important tool. For those who enjoy listening to long, not necessarily meaningful conversations or watching people eat or have sex at length, this film will certainly be the little masterpiece it is so often praised as. But for those for whom authenticity isn't enough to enjoy quite a few lengths as great art, this love story will prove to be a really tough sell. And that's why the bottom line is that it's only worth seeing with reservations!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp