Adèle Exarchopoulos: The Newcomer Who Made History at Cannes
At 21, Adèle Exarchopoulos made history at the Cannes Film Festival.
Every year, Cannes awards its highest honor, the Palme d’Or, to the director of the winning film. This year, jury president Steven Spielberg switched up the game by not only awarding the award to “Blue is the Warmest Color” director Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to the film’s two stars -- Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. That’s how unforgettable Exarchopoulos is in her first lead role onscreen.
In Kechiche’s devastating 3-hour epic, Exarchopoulos plays the titular heroine, a teenager coming to grips with her homosexuality, who falls for a blue-haired beauty a few years her senior. What follows is a love story for the ages; one so bracingly heartfelt and intimate, it feels real.
While both Seydoux and Exarchopoulos were honored by the Cannes jury for their remarkable efforts, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is Exarchopoulos’ film. Appearing in almost every frame of Kechiche’s drama (many times in extreme close-up), Exarchopoulos’ delivers a blisteringly vulnerable turn that demands your full attention. It’s a performance that Indiewire lead critic Eric Kohn heralded as the Best Female Performance of 2013.
“This isn’t a coming out or a coming of age story in any traditional sense," Kohn wrote. "It’s just Adele’s story, and we experience it with her because Exarchopoulos makes the role so genuine.”
“Blue is the Warmest Color” wasn’t the only film released this year to feature the actress. She also played a small part in Matthew Porterfield’s acclaimed Sundance drama, “I Used to Be Darker,” that opened this year.
“Adele is an extraordinary talent,” Porterfield told Indiewire. “Her performance in “Blue is the Warmest Color” might as well be magic. I think she’s the next Sandrine Bonnaire. It sounds unbelievable, but I could tell when she auditioned for her small role in “I Used To Be Darker” over Skype that she was fearless. She came to the United States for the first time in 2011, to work for a week on the film at a seaside resort in Maryland. Despite our difficulty communicating (her English is much better now, I can’t say as much for my French) she was always tireless and professional and willing to try anything. We literally picked the kid who was to play her boyfriend off the street the day of the shoot, but Adele elevates the performance of everyone around her, so it turned out fine. What I never would’ve anticipated from that first audition is her depth, maturity, and strength of character. She may be young, but she’s an old soul with a great mind, so I’m confident she’ll be doing great work for a long, long time.”
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