Friday, March 07, 2014

La Vie d'Adèle -- Chapitres 1 & 2

2013, France, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (aka Blue is the Warmest Colour)

One of the first, brief comments I read about Kechiche's film, a dispatch from the 2013 Cannes festival, suggested to my mind a resolutely realist approach. Leaving aside a discussion of what "real" might mean, I couldn't relate my first impressions of the film with those of the Cannes correspondent: Kechiche to my mind is very much interested in the poetic flourish, in showing not just what is, but what someone might see when their view is coloured by their attraction to or affection for another person. That's particularly striking when we imagine certain shots as being from the perspective of Léa Seydoux's character -- the sun-dappled views of Adèle Exarchopoulos during an early conversation, or the shot from above when Seydoux spots the younger woman awkwardly seated at a bar, almost glowing at the center of the image. There's also the quite wonderful, if very brief, shot when the camera moves back over Exarchopoulos's head at a moment in the film when her world has been turned upside-down -- there's nothing else quite as obviously showy in the film, though it seems perfectly in tune with the character's emotions. As to the film as a whole: others have argued forcefully as to its authenticity as a depiction of lesbian love, about which I can say very little, but as a character study it's utterly absorbing, both due to the commitment of the actresses and Kechiche's ability to create the space for the privileged moment -- a look between performers in a conversation over plates of pasta, the ways in which Adèle talks to the children in her charge late in the film, all of which feel as they though they are the product of an effort, presumably very demanding, to fully inhabit the characters.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States