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La vie d'Adèle (2013)
Back to Blue
Blue is the Warmest Colour is a transcendent tale of love, of coming of age, of social class, of human interaction and loss. Newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos blazes up the screen as the introverted yet fiery teenager Adele, with an appetite and longing almost as insatiable as her budding sexual desires.
After a lackluster relationship with a high school boy, Adele's sexual realization is awakened in the form of a school friend, and then erupts like a volcano thanks to a charming blue haired artist who she meets "by chance" in a trendy inner city lesbian bar. You could say that Adele, who had already encountered this androgynously luminescent blue haired beauty on the street, wandered in that bar knowing her life was going to change in more ways than one that night - in both a physical and psychological way. Did she know her blue haired beauty would be waiting? Who knows. It's certainly possible, the two girls seem to be drawn to each other like a moth to a flame and early on in the film, Adele's teacher mediates on the nature of consequence, chance, fate and destiny in a classroom discussion. Are our encounters pre-determined? One character muses on the regret that you experience when you pass a stranger who catches your eye, but you do not attempt to interact with that stranger. Before Adele and Emma begin their relationship, Adele complains to a friend that she's "missing something", that she is "all messed up". That's the neat thing about Blue is the Warmest Color, everything is tied together somehow. Every single frame has so many layers of meaning and symbolism that the 187 minute running time feels not a minute too long. After all, we are treated to the growth of a girl who gradually becomes a woman, and all the ecstatic ups and dizzying downs she encounters on the way.
This blue haired beauty that Adele falls so head over heels for, Emma, opens a lot of doors for her that in the very beginning, in her repressed working class life, she could only dream about entering. Alas, as is the case with young love, things go awry and the two women, who were once so irrevocably connected, separate. Adele is heartbroken and lost, Emma forges a new life with a new woman, favoring security and family over the sexual excitement she once shared with Adele. Our young heroine doesn't move on so easily, she goes back to black...or blue, rather. In the final scene, and one of the greatest moments in the film, Adele arrives at Emma's gallery donned in a deep blue dress. What else does it say, other than I'll always take you (Emma) with me. Even in the last scene, as Adele walks off with her back to the camera, getting smaller and smaller, the prominent blue dress lingers in view. No matter where we go in life, or how far we venture, true love does linger, even years after the actual relationship has ceased to exist.
I will not go into excessive detail about what transpires in the film, because it's so much more than a love story and it warrants your own viewing. It's enriched with so much meaning that I couldn't begin to express with a maximum guideline of 1,000 words. There is some exquisite cinematography, probably some of the best natural lighting in a film I've seen of recent memory. The two girls youthful natural beauty is framed and lit with the most basic of lighting and there is little to no makeup. They do not need it. This is a film about life and there is no need for artificial glamour. These women and these lives purely exist. They have wild passionate sex, they eat, they dance with their friends, they live and act as though real people do, with the same aspirations, ambitions, anxieties, doubts and love as anybody else. The appeal of this film extends far beyond technical aspects, and you fall in love with the way it portrays both the complex and simple experiences unique to human beings.
Highly recommended and certainly one of the best films of the past decade. The performances by the two leads soar to new heights.
Blue Velvet (1986)
What lies beneath....
When you watch the opening scene of the 1986 classic Blue Velvet, you know your in for something special, a completely original experience. The scene is that of an outwardly idyllic American town, a small white house with requisite garden and white picket fence, and a middle-aged man serenely watering his lawn. The man has a sudden stroke and falls to the ground. The camera moves in close on the man, then to the grass beneath him, then beneath the grass to the sight and sounds of black beetles gnawing and clawing their way through the earth. It's the movie's plot in microcosm.
Like many another film, "Blue Velvet" explores the notion that life is not all that it appears. Under a veneer of respectability and innocence, evil lurks in the most seemingly harmless places. Just below the placid surface of every community lies the face of horror and evil.
For newcomers, here's a brief outline of the plot. All-American boy Kyle MacLachlan, fresh from Lynch's "Dune," stars as All-American boy Jeffrey Beaumont, a college student in the suburban setting of Lumberton, U.S.A., who, while walking across an open field one day, comes upon a severed human ear. He takes it to the police, specifically to a neighbor, Detective Williams (George Dickerson). The Detective promises to investigate, but it's Williams' daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), who precipitates the intrigue. Sandy meets Jeffrey and suggests she has information about the unexplainable ear. The information leads to night-club singer Dorothy Vallens. Both Jeffrey and Sandy devise a plan to sneak into Dorothy's apartment and snoop. This goes awry, and Jeffrey cannot turn away from what witnesses in her apartment...
MacLachlan is in virtually every scene, and at times he seems wooden, but this is the character he's trying to convey. Slightly niave and wooden. We may question his character's actions, but we never doubt his integrity. He's an innocent lost in a corrupt world (well, we all are, really), and as we might expect, even he is infected by the corruption. But is he an honest seeker of truth, an obsessed intruder, or an outright voyeur? Sometimes he seems to derive more satisfaction from his observations than terror or pain...but later in the film, he breaks down and we know he's actions are good intentions. He really wants to save Dorothy from what he sees her go through. Dennis Hopper gives an amazing performance, it's a little worrying he's so accurate.
If your not a Lynch fan, you'll still enjoy Blue Velvet. Many attack (those that want their stories told in a tiresomly straightforward manner) for being confusing, weird and refusing to give explicit plot outlines. Lost Highway and Eraserhead are probably examples on why they have not become as well-known and as popular Blue Velvet, because the majority of movie-goers want an occasionally normal plot. Mulholland Dr., on the other hand, is a complete different story. For some reason, people went wild on the film. Perhaps they realized that they enjoyed have complicated stories.
I like Lynch film's for different reasons. Blue Velvet remains the movie where all of the elements most exquisitely gel. It works perfectly as a character drama, a thriller, a mystery, a study of voyeurism, a look at the darker side of our own personalities and...hell, so much more. Ultimately, Blue Velvet is that rarest of beasts, a compelling entertainment that is also a brilliant work of art and probably one of the greatest movies ever made.