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Movie Magic: La vie d’Adèle (Blue Is The Warmest Colour)

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When I first faced the prospect of seeing a sexually explicit movie about a lesbian relationship, I felt unaccountably uneasy. It’s embarrassing now,ex post, to think of how uncomfortable I was at the thought of watching two women get it on on screen. It’s not that I’m a prude, or uncomfortable with the idea of gay sex. What I feared was having to endure a movie (a French one, at that – and we all know about French movies) where open sexuality was put to the forefront in a clumsily theatrical manner solely for the purpose of shocking its audience into a twisted voyeurism.

I’m delighted to report that La vie d’Adèle (Blue Is The Warmest Colour, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche) does nothing of the sort, and that, despite its naturalistic and extended lesbian sex scenes, it was primarily a (charmingly mundane) story of life and love: brilliantly told, stellarly acted, award-winningly edited and directed, with an ending that almost made me ‘Whoop!’ out loud in the anonymous darkness of the theatre. If it’s showing anywhere near you, and if you’re thinking about going to see it, don’t hesitate for a minute longer.

This movie is so rich, it’s life itself. (Something I’ve never quite seen captured on film.) It has it all.  Anyone who has ever been young, anyone who has ever loved, anyone who has ever felt insecure in a relationship, will relate to the story of Adèle, a young girl from Lille who, one day, is struck by a woman with blue hair. The story is interlaced with literary and artistic allusions to love, fate, and feminine pleasure, which underscore the story and foreshadow its unravelling. The visuals are masterfully executed, achieving through series of close-ups and cuts an intimacy that I never thought possible on film.

And as for the sex scenes? Their ardour and vitality fit perfectly into the narrative of a young and vibrant love. At the end, it’s not them that you remember most, but the joy and the passion, the anguish and the tears, the dappled sunlight on a head of hair, the flickering glances of lusting eyes, a conspiratorial smile… bref, pretty much everything that you remember from the time you first fell in love.

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