It’s almost a recipe for a box-office bomb: a three-hour French drama with an obscurely metaphorical title, two little-known actresses and one 15-minute sex scene in real time. But “Blue is the Warmest Color,” from French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this week on the strength of its luminous filmmaking and sizzling lovemaking between co-stars Adèle Exarchopolous and Léa Seydoux.
“Blue is the Warmest Color” focuses on Adele (Exarchopoulos), a poetry-reading, bohemian teen and her unfolding relationship with Emma, a slightly older art student with blue-dyed hair. The shade becomes a symbol of intimacy as their relationship develops through a string of epic sex scenes that one critic lauded as “amongst the most graphic in the history of non-pornographic cinema…unabashed and entirely unembarrassing.”
Exarchopolous and Seydoux were singled out for recognition along with their director, a move The New York Times called “unusual, perhaps unprecedented.” Fans of Sapphic-themed French dramas may remember Seydoux from her role as a quasi-lesbian servant to Marie Antoinette in last year’s “Farewell, My Queen.”
The Palme d’Or, bestowed by jury foreman Steven Spielberg, boosts the indie film’s chances of wide distribution. If “Blue is the Warmest Color” makes it to your local multiplex, don’t miss it.