Coming-of-age stories in which a young person comes to terms with their sexuality are very common in LGBT cinema and literature, yet Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Colour walks this well-trodden ground in a refreshingly intense manner. The strikingly blue-haired Emma (Léa Seydoux) helps unsure young Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) find her identity – but their relationship can’t last forever.
A particularly moving scene comes at the end of the film. Three years after splitting up, Adèle and Emma meet in a cafe. Like the rest of the three-hour film, this scene takes it slow; it’s one conversation between two people that lasts fifteen minutes, and yet it takes in more emotional beats than many films manage in their whole running time. Sure, they begin by making awkward small talk – Adèle’s new haircut, Emma’s paintings – but, shot in intimate close-up, Adèle’s licking of lips and inability to keep eye contact reveal a powerful tension undercutting this.
Adèle is still deeply in love with Emma, and doesn’t take long to move the conversation onto her ex’s love life. After Emma admits that the sex with her new partner isn’t as good, Adèle takes her opportunity to grab Emma’s hand and admit her feelings – “I miss you. I miss not touching each other … I want you all the time.”
Emma gives in to Adèle’s advances and they kiss, their passion reignited to the point that the audience can’t help but wonder how they’ve avoided being kicked out.
But it can’t last. Emma has moved on, and pulls away. She leaves on amicable terms, but Adèle is clearly heartbroken, left alone in the cafe and finally noticing the other patrons watching her.
And so ends this remarkable scene, which goes through so many emotional highs and lows, so much passion and regret and longing, told both through unrestrained expressions of love and through subtle but sexually charged minutiae. The relationship is no more, as is the blue hair which sparked it off. It’s a sad ending to their final meeting, but one that will hopefully allow Adèle to finally move on.