French Film “Blue is the Warmest Colour” Enraptures.

Blue is the Warmest Colour.

Blue is the Warmest Colour.

Abdel­latif Kechiche won this year’s Palme D’Or at Cannes with his sixth film, Blue is the Warmest Colour, though its orig­i­nal title, The Life of Adèle chap­ters 1 & 2, is the bet­ter description.

The 20 year old Adèle Exar­chopoulos gives an aston­ish­ing per­for­mance as the epony­mous hero­ine in the three hour film that charts her jour­ney from ten­ta­tive teenag­er into a ful­ly formed woman.

The Ital­ians use the word col­pi­to, lit­er­al­ly struck down to describe the moment of falling in love. And nowhere will you see it bet­ter cap­tured than when Adèle first catch­es sight of the blue haired Emma, played by Léa Sey­doux. What fol­lows is a mag­nif­i­cent­ly painful bur­row­ing into the war­ren of a relationship.

Inevitably, the bare­ly ten min­utes of pas­sion­ate sex that this includes is what has gen­er­at­ed all the inter­est and con­tro­ver­sy since the film first sur­faced this year at Cannes. With the actress­es appar­ent­ly com­plain­ing of exploita­tion, and the direc­tor angri­ly defend­ing himself.

Abdellatif Kechiche , Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux at Cannes.

Abdel­latif Kechiche , Adèle Exar­chopou­los and Léa Sey­doux, all smiles at Cannes despite the murmurings.

It’s not hard to see why the actress­es might feel some­what sul­lied, betrayed even by the result­ing film. Not because of the sex scenes, but because of the depth and raw­ness of emo­tion on view, and the way in which they, and espe­cial­ly Adèle expose them­selves so com­plete­ly before us.

It would be all too easy to be flip­pant about a film like this. It’s all so very French. It’s a three hour film about beau­ti­ful girls who draw lov­ing­ly on an end­less sup­ply of cig­a­rettes in between dis­cussing exis­ten­tial­ism and art and falling in and out of love with each oth­er. And all in a way that’s both beau­ti­ful to watch, com­plete­ly believ­able, and some­how nev­er pretentious.

And this being Ire­land, it gets an 18 cer­tifi­cate. After all, that’s the last thing any of us would want our teenage boys and girls watch­ing when they could be at home instead look­ing at hard­core porn in the com­fort of their bedrooms.

But the film tran­scends all of that. Because the jour­ney that the actress­es and the direc­tor take you on is so inti­mate, so emo­tion­al­ly engag­ing and so rap­tur­ous­ly cap­tured that it’s impos­si­ble not to be com­plete­ly tak­en in. And for once, that 3 hour dura­tion is jus­ti­fied. As with the num­ber of words Tol­stoy took, some­times you need the space that time gives you to be able to ful­ly delve into your sto­ry. And to con­vey all the emo­tion involved.

Com­fort­ably, and by a con­sid­er­able dis­tance, the film of the year. You can see the trail­er here.

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion right or below and I shall keep you post­ed every week on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Brilliant “Once Upon A Time In Anatolia”, Where All the World’s a Country.

There’s a famous Ital­ian say­ing which goes tut­to il mon­do e’ un paese. It’s some­times trans­lat­ed as it’s a small world. But we use that in Eng­lish when we’re far from home and we see some­thing or some­one that we only expect to see at home.

Where­as what the Ital­ians mean when they say all the world’s a coun­try, is that even here, miles from home, peo­ple live their lives wor­ry­ing about the same things, and mov­ing to the same rhythms as we all do, wher­ev­er we hap­pen to come from. If you want to wit­ness what that looks like, look no fur­ther than the bril­liant new film from Nuri Bilge Cey­lan (pro­nounced Jay-lan).

Once Upon A Time In Ana­to­lia picked up the run­ners-up prize at Cannes last year. Unfor­giv­ably, the jury gave the Palme d’Or to Mal­ick­’s hope­less­ly overblown The Tree Of Life instead, reviewed here ear­li­er. More fool them, this is a prop­er film.

In his inter­view with the Lon­don Inde­pen­dent here, Bilge Cey­lan says that his lat­est film owes more to 19th cen­tu­ry Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture than it does to any fel­low film mak­er, not with­stand­ing its title. And there’s no mis­tak­ing the air of doom and that sense of exis­ten­tial angst that hangs over the film, call­ing to mind the moral fog that so many of Dos­toyevsky’s trou­bled char­ac­ters are forced to wade through. But more than any­thing else, it’s the shad­ow of Chekov that so impres­sive­ly shrouds it.

As with all of his plays, what we get here is a small group of fig­ures in iso­la­tion who offer up a pic­ture of the world in micro­cosm. A ne’er-do-well and his sim­ple­ton broth­er have killed a man, but they can’t remem­ber where they buried the body. So the film charts the night and ear­ly morn­ing as they, the police, the doc­tor and pros­e­cu­tor traipse weari­ly across the bar­ren land­scape until they even­tu­al­ly unearth it.

But the actu­al crime is mere­ly the excuse, the MacGuf­fin as Hitch­cock called it, which allows us to wit­ness the details of the hum­drum exis­tence that they lead, and the way in which they and their sep­a­rate lives are all inter­con­nect­ed. Inevitably, in the course of their jour­ney into the night, they and we dis­cov­er the par­tic­u­lar hid­den his­to­ries that they are each defined by.

This is a pal­pa­ble advance on the film that Bilge Cey­lan was best known for up until now. Cli­mates, his forth from ’06, had a won­der­ful­ly evoca­tive dream sequence on the beach, and an impres­sive­ly fer­al and all too believ­able sex scene at its cen­tre. But the long stretch­es of ennui and detach­ment in between were all too life-like. That might be what life is like, but it’s not what most of us want our films to be like. Dra­ma is what you’re left with when all of that has been excised.

Here in con­trast, all the time that ticks over in between what lit­tle there is in the way of con­ven­tion­al plot is qui­et­ly thought-pro­vok­ing, and serves to build an increas­ing­ly com­plex por­trait of every­day lives.

It’s a man’s world to be sure. But as the fleet­ing appari­tion of the may­or’s beau­ti­ful daugh­ter demon­strates, these are men whose lives revolve around try­ing to come to terms with the absence of the women in their lives, for what­ev­er their dif­fer­ent rea­sons, and the lone­li­ness that engulfs them ever after.

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion right or below, and I shall keep you post­ed every week  with All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!