The highly talked about, subjectively scandalizing Blue is the Warmest Color proves one thing: Even lesbians use the "I'm on my period" excuse to get out of sex. Except in a lesbian relationship, one of the women is actually in tune with when your cycle is and won't believe the lie, but instead read immensely into it. Not only that, but being a lesbian doesn't exempt one person in the relationship from being more into it than the other--not that we really needed writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche to tell us that. In fact, Kechiche's male gender is perhaps the most controversial aspect of Blue is the Warmest Color (unless you're new to the scissoring game).
Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a bi-curious high school student whose eye is drawn immediately to the charismatic, blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux). Confident and self-assured, Emma attends the Beaux Arts college to pursue her passion for drawing. The connection between Emma and Adèle is unignorable--primarily for Adèle, who is still grappling with the notion that she might not be straight. Her first sexual encounter with a fellow male student proves lackluster to Adèle, prompting her to call things off with him. With the help of a friend, Valentin (Sandor Funtek), who takes her out to a gay club, Adèle finds herself wandering into a lesbian bar nearby where she fortuitously runs into Emma.
Although Emma is in a relationship and Adèle fears total banishment from her friends/conventional society, the two fall into a hopeless romance that ultimately results in Adèle's utter isolation as Emma throws herself into her art. Even among Emma's friends, Adèle feels awkward and out of place. More and more conscious that her true identity is just as ambiguous as her sexual identity, Adèle gives into the temptation of sleeping with a male colleague who teaches a class at the same school. Emma finds out about her indiscretion and throws her out without a second a thought. It is also during this scene that we learn lesbians aren't opposed to calling their girlfriends "slut" and "whore" either.
It's difficult to say if Blue is the Warmest Color (which is actually titled La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 in France and based on Julie Minoh's graphic novel) would be nearly as riveting without the same sex element and explicit sexual content. Its NC-17 rating, however, still comes off as absurd when compared to the R rating of The Wolf of Wall Street. While the love story between Adèle and Emma is moving, it is, by no means, epic. The only reason it comes across as such is due to the length of the film and the tragedy of the couple not ending up together.
After their breakup, Emma and Adèle meet again. While Adèle tries to coerce Emma (who is now in a relationship with her friend, Lise) into infidelity, Emma rebuffs her advances, but affectionately tells her: "I have infinite tenderness for you. I always will. All my life long." It is with this sentiment in mind that Adèle accepts Emma's invitation to her art show, where she re-encounters a gallery owner, Joachim (Stéphane Mercoyrol), who showed interest in her previously at a party for Emma. Because the two had talked about New York and Adèle's desire to go there, he inquires as to whether she ever made the trip. She tells him she never did. But then, New York and France are two sides of the same coin--and it is this duality and sameness that mirrors Adèle's own explorative sexual saga.
Although the film is saturated in blue--blue nails, blue jackets, blue dresses, blue hair, blue walls, etc.--it is invariably the pink (that's code for vagina in case you didn't get it) that has drawn so many moviegoers (read: straight people) to this particular narrative. It is, at best, maudlin and, at worst, falsely and exploitively avant-garde.