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Midnight Cowboy Days of Heaven The Dreamlife of Angels Annie Hall Manhattan The Ice Storm Before Sunrise Before Sunset Before Night Falls Heathers The Graduate Lost in Translation Ordinary People Being John Malkovich Brief Encounter From Here to Eternity Brokeback Mountain Tokyo Story Some Like it Hot Sunset Blvd. Mulholland Dr. Edward Scissorhands Raise the Red Lantern The Thin Red Line Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon A bout de souffle (Breathless) Ikiru Dancer in the Dark You Can Count on Me A Streetcar Named Desire Sideways 12 Angry Men 3 Women Rosemary's Baby Rashomon Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
La vie d'Adèle (2013)
Lyrical, frank, impassioned, emotionally transcendent. One of the best of 2013.
"Blue is the Warmest Colour" is a film of many faces. It's a story about the education of an uncomplicated young woman trying to find happiness as she moves from adolescence to adulthood. It's a story about two lives that are initially bound together by an irrepressible passion but eventually come apart as differing needs set in over time. And finally, it's a story about the vagaries of love, and the way that one person can irrevocably alter the course of your life even after they are no longer a part of it. It is an extraordinary film, unapologetically frank in its depiction of the titular character's sexual awakening and emotional growth over the course of several years, but still acutely affecting in the way that it fully immerses the viewer into the primal, dismantling experience of falling in love. Adele Exarchopoulos carries the entire weight of this story on her shoulders, and delivers one of the best performances of the year. To say that she is "acting" would be a disservice. She all but becomes Adele, and through the simplest expressions that flicker across her cherubic yet oddly sensuous face is able to communicate a wealth of emotion stirring underneath. Within the span of three hours, Exarchopoulos vibrantly fleshes out the the most formative years of this young woman's life, showing her transition from curious high-school student to semi-domesticated schoolteacher with remarkable, bracing ease. Lea Seydoux is almost equally as fantastic as the object of Adele's cataclysmic obsession. The actress does subtle wonders dramatizing Emma's own personal arc, and at delineating the negative space that expands between her and Adele as their respective vocational interests and lifestyle philosophies diverge. Director Abdellatif Kechiche is an observer above all else, and the drawback of this is that he probably lingers on some scenes for a bit too long. The intimacy with which he chronicles Adele as she meanders through all of her experiences--big, small, and everything in between--is ultimately what gives the film its distinctive verve, but some of the scenes felt extraneous and could have easily been trimmed. That being said, the director is more than a bit successful in achieving his primary goal: to chart the dizzying emotional trajectory of an all-consuming love, and the crushing aftermath of its demise. You leave the film having felt every inch of Adele's craving for what once was but will never be again, but amidst the uncompromising hurt also lies the hope of something more on the other side of the experience. Kechiche ends the film on a wonderfully ambiguous note, and in doing so remains faithful to the story's overarching message about the elusive, untidy, ineffable nature of a happiness that is linked to another person, and about the lessons that only a first love can teach us...especially after it's gone.
Lust. Uncertainty. Self-preservation. The possibility of something greater.
"Weekend" is simply one of 2011's best. It is a film that transcends the patently glib set-up of its narrative and delivers something that reverberates with insight and sincerely felt emotion. In the vein of "Before Sunrise", "Weekend" lets the story flow from the words of its characters, chronicling the trajectory of their relationship with a breathtaking intimacy that wipes away any sense of artifice. The rapport that steadily materializes between semi-closeted, emotionally cloistered Russell (a remarkable, utterly convincing, beautifully expressive Tom Cullen) and jaded, brashly assertive Russell (a terrific Chris New) after an ostensible one-night stand does not hinge on any cute contrivances; it is illuminated through casual conversation, awkward silences, shared drug binging, unbridled sexual engagements. They interact with each other under the disillusioned awareness of how tenuous their relationship ultimately is, yet remain in the dark about where their respective feelings will take them as they spend the next few days together. Andrew Haigh lets both of these characters breathe instead of stultifying them with rehearsed speeches or facile behavioral patterns. He films their solitary, day-to-day routines with an almost poetic sense of observation, delineating them firstly as two distinct characters who begin to bond in unexpected ways. Through an exchange of personal stories, Russell and Glen patch together discernible impressions of the experiences which directed their individual personalities and respective stations in life. They bicker over the acceptability of heteronormative decorum, express incompatible sentiments about the meaning behind sex and the necessity of relationships, and we watch with blistering closeness as an ineffable gravity pulls them closer together despite a mutual recognition that Monday will only bring separation. One could fault the screenplay for relying on familiar motivations for how the lead characters behave in the final act, but this is more than made up for by the sheer emotional force of the film's penultimate scene--rarely has goodbye been rendered with such artless, stirring pathos. And rarely has a story of falling in love been so told that challenges our very perception if its portrayal on screen.