Movie review: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' is remarkable

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Yes, there is a lot of sex. But that's only part of what the extraordinary "Blue Is the Warmest Color" (4stars, NC-17 for explicit sexual content) is really about.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche with a close-up intensity that brings the soul of the central character out from the screen and into your heart, this three-hour portrait of a young French woman named Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) captures the dizzying, all-consuming ardor of first love, the joyous discovery of bringing your body and mind into union with another

It is about sexual identity as well as growing up, impossible heartbreak and loneliness.

For Adele, unsettled when dating a young man, it's love at first sight when she meets Emma (Lea Seydoux), a few years older, in art college, with a pixie grin and a punky shock of cobalt-blue hair.

"Blue" transitions seamlessly over several years as we watch Adele struggle to come to terms with her sexuality, or at least struggle to live it fully, uncloaked, without compromise or compartmentalization. The contrast between Adele and Emma isn't only about how they handle being a lesbian, it's about class, and culture, too.

"Blue" won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May. For all the hype and controversy the movie has engendered (the sex scenes, Mr. Kechiche's threats of a lawsuit against Ms. Seydoux for the actress's troubling allegations of psychological abuse), there's no getting around the fact that this is a remarkable work.

In French with English subtitles; opens today at Manor Theater, Squirrel Hill.


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