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Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color

Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue Is the Warmest Color, 2013, digital video, color, sound, 179 minutes. Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Léa Seydoux).

A HIGH-WATER MARK in cinematic lesberation or, as a New York Times headline put it, a “slutty impostor”? Examining the reception of Abdellatif Kechiche’s fifth feature, Blue Is the Warmest Color—a sexually explicit but often fatuous tale of a sapphic sentimental education—since its premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, has proven more stimulating than the film itself.

In the first of the director’s many interventions in this loose adaptation, cowritten by Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel Le Bleu est une couleur chaude (2010), he changes the name of the original’s teenage protagonist, Clémentine, to match that of the actress who plays her: Adèle Exarchopoulos, a little-known nineteen-year-old performer whose mien, particularly her ripe, full mouth, evokes both Brigitte Bardot and Godard regular Anne Wiazemsky.

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