Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5
What relevance does the title have? I don’t know. At some point I thought it might be because Emma (the “older” women in this love affair, although only a college student when we meet her) sports blue streaks in her punky hairstyle. But that’s not it. The original title, La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 – “The Life of Adèle – Chapters 1 & 2, makes more sense, as it focuses on the younger lover, Adele, in a spectacular breakout performance by Adele Exarchopoulos. Adele the actress was 18 when she played Adele the character, who is a high school junior when we first meet her. This is a love story, with its tender, exploratory beginnings to its explosive sexual and emotional dynamics and ulitimately its (spoiler alert, sorry) typical demise. I wondered how great this film is, given its biggest publicity has surrounded the lesbian aspect – is it exploitive, is it genuine or just titilating? Certainly the plot is nothing special: girl meets boy, girl meets the love of her life and forgets the boy, they have a fight and break up. And it takes 3 hours to do so. But it held my attention, and I really liked it. I attribute that to one main factor, which is the beauty and geniuneness of Adele playing Adele. Her captivating screen presence grew on me. She starts out looking like a typical high schooler, rushing off to catch the bus, hair a mess, dumpy clothes, nothing special about her. But you see her beauty, and her face is so expressive, in an understated way, that you can tell how she is feelling, from bored, to excited, to love, to vulnerable and to miserable. There’s some great scenes: with her classmates freaking out ’cause she’s hanging out with a butch girl; with her family around the dinner table; with her nursery school class as she rejoices in teaching the kids; with a party when she plays host/chef/server to Emma’s upper class artistic friends. And of course, the 1 on 1 scenes between the women show true love, show how routine life interferes and then how one intense fight can destroy it all. A lot has been written about the 10 minute explicit sex scene, and as a typical hetero male I certainly enjoyed it. Probably not as genuine as what I’ve seen in The L Word, or in actual porno films, but as close to real sex as you will see in mainstream movies. I mean, you can’t fake kissing and biting someone’s ass. But you can legitimately tell your spouse and friends that you are going to see an excellent foreign film, and mean it.