Abdellatif Kechiche’s rapturously beautiful Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is The Warmest Color” is a gift for which we should all be grateful, and it’s streaming on Netflix Instant right now. Criterion has also released a bare-bones Blu-ray of the film, with a more robust release, replete with extras, due out later this year.
At three hours, the lesbian romance almost never wastes a moment of its relaxed running time — except, of course, for the highly stylized, gravity-defying sex scenes that you can now fast forward through, or pause on, if you wish. The film about young Adele’s (Adele Exarchopoulos) coming-of-age, which brings her out of the closet and into a feverish love affair with enigmatic painter Emma (Lea Seydoux), possesses a lived-in quality you don’t see much in contemporary movies, even in the arthouse.
While queer cinema has all but lost the heat in its loins thanks to political advancement in the gay community — and Criticwire’s Sam Adams argues this point cogently in his essay “Have the Victories of Gay Rights Dimmed the Fires of Queer Cinema?” — we have Kechiche to thank for this wonderful movie that celebrates gay love (and sex) in all its messiness and truth, and without all the genre’s bland coming-out trappings.
Even if his direction is a bit navel/male-gazey for some tastes, it’s impossible to deny the siren pull of Kechiche’s women, particularly Exarchopoulos, who racked up critics’ prize after critics’ prize last Fall. In terms of Oscar voting, the film fell on deaf ears (or blind eyes) and was shut out. But “Blue Is The Warmest Color” is eternal.
(Also, watch Anne Thompson’s exclusive Telluride video interview with the NC-17 film’s lovely leading ladies here.)