Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2, 2013) is the adaptation by Abdellatif Kechiche of the comic of the same name.The plot is identical to the comic but, instead of the narrator being named Clémentine, and dying in the end, she is instead named Adèle and remains in love with Emma even though she has taken another girlfriend.The film made history in the Cannes Film Festival by awarding its top prize, the Palme d'Or to the director and actresses of which the distinction is usually given to the filmmaker only.
Adaptation Expansion: The movie explored a lot of complex and realistic issues that involve two people from their consummate passion in their courtship up to the complacency that comes along with being in a domestic partnership. While Emma's character wasn't given a backstory like in the comic book, she and Adele's characterization are more complex and more layered. Their conflicts are also more difficult, realistic, and multi-faceted.
Adaptational Modesty: Averted. However, the sex scenes are absolutely necessary for the film in spite of what the naysayers may believe since the all-consuming passion provide a contrast to the powerful emotions that will transpire later in the confrontation between the two lovers.
One trademark of Kechiche is his fondness for close ups. This worked well for the film since its naturalistic acting perfectly captured every emotion on Adele's face and made their expressions appear larger than life.
Author Avatar: By Word of God, aspiring actor Samir is a stand-in for Kechiche as he asks Adele if the intimacy with women is different from men.
Bifauxnen: Emma at the second part of the film where she has blonde hair and wears more sophisticated clothing that is expected of a well-respected artist. It also symbolizes the passage of time between the two chapters and how much her character has other priorities aside from her domestic life.
Blatant Lies: Adele repeatedly denying to Emma that the guy who dropped her off isn't having an affair with her
Bitter Sweet Ending: Adele might have lost the love of her life but after her closure in the cafe and finally accepting that she has to continue living without Emma, she is finally ready to move on and to find herself even if it means seeking her identity all over again which made her just as unsatisfied at the beginning of the film. At least, whatever decision she makes would be her own from then on. First love is definitely significant but it may not be the right kind of love nor the best kind of love, at least for Adele.
Book Dumb: Thomas can be easily seen as intellectually inferior to Adele since he's not much of a reader but is actually good in Math. He is also reasonably talented in music and decided to learn on his own because he didn't like his music classes. He learned to play various musical instruments by listening and watching videos.
Book Ends: The hangdrum music plays when Adele sees Emma for the first time and it also does when she leaves the gallery which could possibly be the last time she'll ever see her.
Book Worm: Emma and Adele, but they have completely different reasons for reading. Emma reads to analyze, while Adele reads to fantasize.
Boyfriend Bluff: Emma wards off a girl who flirts with Adele in the bar by pretending to be her cousin.
Break the Cutie: Poor Adele after the break-up and three years after at least until she leaves the gallery at the end of the film where she gets her closure.
Brick Joke: Emma explains Sartre's existentialism by saying that existence precedes essence earlier in the film. In the third sex scene when Emma jokingly asks Adele on how she finds her philosophy lessons, she laughs and said that it was enriching, deep, intense, and that orgasm precedes essence.
Cat Fight: Between Adele and her classmate in the school yard.
Cerebus Callback: The bench where the two lovers had their first serious and in-depth conversation and subsequently spent their passionate dates on plays a very important part in Adele's fond memories. This was referenced in Chapter 2 when she sleeps on it alone to remember and absorb of what remains of her relationship with Emma.
Emma begins to display her suave and confident aura from when she pointedly tells the woman that Adele is her cousin in order to ward her off as she gets the message. She proceeds to talk to Adele about high art while maintaining the girl's interest. Also, she uses her flirtatious charm as she moves closer and closer to her and she even gets Adele to taste her strawberry milk while drinking from the same straw that Adele used.
Emma is a practiced seducer and certainly knows her moves that she uses her talent in drawing to create a portrait of Adele. She gets to make Adele pose for her and it's possible that she gets to keep a copy of the picture that she promises to give Adele if she's finished with it. Smooth.
Closet Key: While Adele doesn't identify as lesbian or bisexual nor is the film clear on where she places on the Kinsey Scale, Emma serves as this for her since she found out that she can possibly be attracted to women too.
Color Motif: Blue is the predominant color in the film and is the most common recurring element.
Comfort Food: It is indicated that Adele turns to candy bars and other sweets for comfort when she's depressed.
Coming of Age Story: The film's more accurate title is Life of Adele: Chapters 1 and 2 rather than Blue is the Warmest Colour. The film is more of a chronicle of how Adele transitions from adolescence to adulthood rather than a lesbian love story even though their relationship is the centerpiece of Adele's life.
Adele's lovemaking with Thomas and her discontented reaction afterwards compared to the overwhelming tears that she had after she and Emma make love for the first time
Emma and Adele's dinner with Emma's mom and stepfather who are supportive of her homosexuality and passion in art, compared to Adele's parents when the couple had dinner at their home. Adele's parents are more concerned with practical matters such as money and prioritizing it over one's artistic pursuits. Additionally, her father is apparently reserved about Emma's tomboyish appearance.
Cocky, suave, and flirtatious Emma in the bar, compared to the older, sensitive, and more quiet Emma in the cafe
The whole of Chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2
Cry Cute: Subverted. Adele's feral cries of desperation were all the more heartbreaking when her tears and snot mix as she feels that her world is falling apart after Emma throws her out of the house. Also in the cafe scene where her heartbreak is totally sympathetic and gut-wrenching upon hearing Emma say that she no longer loves her.
Dead Artists Are Better: Adele's mother remarks that most painters earn a lot only when they're dead upon knowing that Emma actively pursues success in her painting, which also serves as juxtaposition to Adele meeting Emma's parents most especially her mother, who was visibly surprised when she told them that she wants to be a schoolteacher. While she may not understand Adele's motivation, she and Emma's stepfather are glad for her that she already knows what she wants to do for a career.
Demoted to Extra: Adèle's parents and Emma's girlfriend Sabine have smaller roles in the movie.
Deuteragonist: Emma is the catalyst for setting the story in motion as it dawns on Adele the answer to her teacher's question on how does one know if the heart is missing something.
Distracted by the Sexy: Adele has the look of someone who's struck by lightning upon locking eyes with Emma that she had to be honked twice by vehicles as she continues to cross the street.
Does Not Like Spam: Adele will continue to eat anything even if she's already full but you can never make her eat shellfish in any occasion. Subverted later though when she tries one with Emma's guidance and ends up liking it.
Erotic Eating: Emma educates Adele on how to eat oysters. The blatant metaphor is lost on no one.
Establishing Character Moment: Adele eating bolognese with abandon while licking even the knife clean of its sauce is representative of her voraciousness and hunger to fully experiencing everything that she has a passion for.
Even the Girls Want Her: Adele is complimented by Beatrice, a female friend as one of the prettiest girls in their grade. This trope applies to both the actresses as well in real life.
Fish out of Water: Adele is full of trepidation and is very uncomfortable when she steps into a lesbian bar for the first time. The other patrons took notice of this and tried to take advantage of her naivete by flirting with her. Even Emma also notes that an underage, ostensibly straight, curious girl doesn't come to these places very often.
Harmony Versus Discipline: Adele and Emma respectively. Adele is content to accept things as they are and is not as interested as Emma in finding out which came first, existence or essence which is the very thing that they discussed when Emma explains Existentialism to her. Meanwhile, Emma is very interested in philosophy, art theory and criticism. Adele is contented to serve as a muse for Emma however, Emma is not contented with passion as the sole basis for sustaining a relationship and eventually chooses to be with Lise with whom she can have spirited discussions with and has the same drive and ambition as her.
Lover and Beloved: While Emma is not primarily a mentor to Adele, she is regarded as the more educated and more worldly partner in the relationship. She also educates Adele not only through her interests but also in their sexual encounters as Adele becomes more and more comfortable through Emma's guidance.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Adele is passionate, emotional and instinctive while Emma is more cerebral, intellectual, and self-possessed. In real life also since Adele Exarchopoulos is more spontaneous and gregarious in interviews while Lea Seydoux is seen as more reserved and shy. Though frequently in their interviews together, Seydoux is caught up by her co-star's self-confidence that she reveals a very goofy sense of humor which makes these absolutely priceless. For example, this interview with David Poland which became the second most popular video in his Youtube Channel in just under four months, and is an absolute delight. Two instances of these are in 15:49-17:56 when Adele describes the sex scene and at 11:30-12:21 where Lea explains the confrontation between Emma and Adele.You shit on me!
Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Adele prefers not to have everything that she reads be explained to her thoroughly even if the symbolism and scenes may go way over her head. She reads in order to provide her with more avenues for possibilities and to expand her imagination. Emma is a very good artist but is also cerebral and intellectual that while her profession requires instinct and intuition, she also prefers the very qualities that make a great artist's work noteworthy and exceptional. She also analyzes the very reasons why she's taken by a painter's work and admires the precision that theory and criticism provides.
Adele and Emma eating dinner with the former's parents while being served spaghetti bolognaise, a simple and affordable dish compared to the couple eating with Emma's parents at their home with the choice of having the finest white wine and fresh, expensive, and much coveted oysters from Triere.
At Emma's party, Samir and Adele are bonding over his fondness for Adele's bolognaise and his wry comments of finding work as an actor with his Arabian heritage while Emma and friends are more interested in discussing Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
Technician Versus Performer: Emma and Adele respectively. Emma displays high creativity in her art but she is also particular about technique and styles that were used by her favorite artists and it is indicated that they have influenced her work and it serves her well. Adele refuses to have things reduced to a template which is why she does not like to analyze literature for it confines her to a set of thinking process that strictly confines her creativity and prefers to search and find things on her own. In real life, Adele Exarchopoulos said that her acting style is instinctive and she appears to be comfortable with Kechiche's "blank slate" school of acting while Lea Seydoux herself stated that she is more cerebral. Adele recounted in an interview that she was anxious on the first day of filming when she realized that she is not as prepared as evidenced when Lea is very thorough in asking questions to Kechiche in order to understand her character better.
Foreshadowing: Adele says that the only painter she knows is Picasso. Picasso has a blue period and a red period. Emma sports blue hair in Chapter 1 and goes back to blonde at the beginning of Chapter 2. It is an indication that the relationship between them has changed. It is also mentioned outright by one of Emma's friends in the gallery who compares her paintings that she did during her relationship with Adele and years after their separation.
Gay Best Friend: Valentin is a very supportive and understanding friend when he defends and consoles Adele from their homophobic classmates.
Gayngst: Played straight with Adele in the bullying scene and in the aftermath where she's crying silently and having difficulty concentrating in class. It is almost non-existent for the entirety of the movie since the marginalization of Adele being closeted at work wasn't emphasized. Averted with Emma.
Get Out: Emma is furious when she learns about Adele's betrayal that she deems the relationship damage irreversible. She orders Adele to remove all of her stuff from her house and to get out of her life.
Gossipy Hens: Adele's female friends in school who are excited that the best looking in guy in their school likes her and are constantly badgering her for details when they see her the morning after their first date.
The Grovel: The cafe scene. It didn't work. Poor Adele.
Adele was initially full of hope when Beatrice kisses her that she was smiling during dinner that her parents even took notice of it considering the confusion and loneliness she felt in the past scenes. One can't help but feel bad for her when Beatrice turns her down when she kisses her again and says that it didn't mean anything.
For those who haven't read the reviews and/or watched the film with a blank slate, the cafe scene was more heartbreaking when Emma accepted Adele's advances with powerful ardor but was ultimately turned down. It is even more devastating because of the investment that the audience has on the relationship of the characters especially when they are cheering for them to get back together. One truly feels for Adele when she realizes that no matter how attracted Emma is to her, there is no chance that they will ever be reunited.
Hot Teacher: It would be easier to make a list of those who don't want to have Adele as their pre-school teacher.
Incredibly Lame Pun: Emma humorously waives Adele’s comments that she just ‘wandered’ into the lesbian bar by chance by saying that she’s drinking Goudale, a beer brand that is the usual order by some of the regulars. Emma took a delightful spin into the word by referring to the beer as the preferred brand of goudou, a French colloquial term for lesbian or butch. Even Emma was self-aware of her prosaic joke that she laughs at it.
Ironic Echo: Adele tells Valentin after losing her virginity to Thomas that she is not being true to herself when she found herself discontented afterwards expecting that she will learn to love him. She makes light of her conundrum between acknowledging her feelings for another woman and her expectations of what she is supposed to be by jokingly rehearsing her forthcoming confession to Thomas by saying that she will appear before him looking haggardly and hideous as she currently appears with her tears and snot all over. She tells Valentin that Thomas will probably be disgusted by her less than appealing appearance that he wouldn't love her anymore and will tell her “to get lost. Beat it.” Later in the cafe, Adele realises that everything is over between her and Emma that even if she is deeply in love with her, she respects Emma’s decision to not get back with her and that she is no longer in love with her. Adele tries to put together what she has left after the revelation that just about nearly breaks her by telling Emma that she can leave when she wants to and makes light of it by saying “go on, beat it,” echoing what Thomas might have said when he actually cries silently about being rejected. Adele imagines that the rejected might have been the recipient of the command given by the person to tell them to leave when it is actually the opposite. Adele jokingly says that Thomas will say it since he's the one who will reject her when actually, she who is rejected says it to Emma although in jest as she indicates that she respects her decision.
The differences between the two girls were the very things that drew them irresistibly together but ultimately became the wedge that severed their relationship. Emma was drawn to Adele's humor and naivete and she was taken in by her seemingly simplistic approach to things but she realized that Adele will remain uninterested in her artistic leanings just as she is not particularly interested in Adele's profession. Adele is completely in love with Emma and is utterly enamored by her independence and self-confidence but she realizes, albeit not openly (most of all to herself), that Emma is such a free spirit and refuses to have her life narrowed down by only a few creative pursuits and limited self-complexity that she became anxious when Emma becomes more focused on her art and emerging success and does not have as much time for her.
Adele finds a potential lover in Thomas but she seeks a teacher, not a student. One of her reasons for breaking up with him is that they have little in common in terms of interests. Emma at first enjoys educating Adele and seduces her with her knowledge of philosophy and high art but she eventually chooses Lise with whom she may not have a passionate sexual relationship, but is her equal in conversation and a kindred spirit in her professional and creative passion.
Immodest Orgasm / Right Through the Wall: Invoked by Emma and averted with Adele after she had her orgasm when they had sex in the latter's room. They are both relieved when Adele managed to be as quiet as possible and Emma is grateful and finds it adorable that she did all that she can so as not to be heard by her parents.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Joachim is regarded by Emma as a genius and is the biggest gallery owner in Lille. He is also crucial to Emma's success as an artist. He condescendingly expounds on the mysticism of the female orgasm and is quite arrogant about intellectualizing them even in front of other female artists. Meanwhile, Adele listens to the conversation without him knowing that she experiences the very thing which he painstakingly attempts to understand and wants to witness in art but will always be out of his reach.
Love at First Sight: Adele and Emma when they first saw each other. At the second half of the film though, Emma is becoming aware that it's sex that's keeping them together whereas Adele is consummate in her love for Emma.
Oh, where to begin. The second half of the movie could very well be entitled, ''Adele, the Woobie'' because of her loneliness even when she was still with Emma and the latter’s growing emotional distance and the development of her personality due to her success and added priorities. It doesn’t help that Adele has no other life aside from her occupation and her domestic duties. This singular focus of Adele worked against her in the sudden turn of events when one night, that she expects to be a quiet evening ends up in a devastating break up which left her from lonely to broken all in a space of a few minutes.
From the moment she sees Emma in the street until she leaves the gallery, Adele strongly vacillates between extreme emotions of ecstacy, euphoria, loneliness and grief during her relationship with Emma, its end and beyond. It is apparent that from the very moment she sees her, Emma is all she thinks about which makes her presence strong in the film even when she is not there considering that the character is only present for a little over a half of the movie’s duration at the very most.
It is a strong possibility that Adele has dreamed of the encounter with Emma in the café for years and it appears that she was full of hope that she and Emma will get back together starting from her offer to pay Emma in “flesh and blood” as payment for a painting, until Emma gives in to her advances but ultimately chooses to be loyal to Lise and her daughter. Adele asks if Emma will still see her again to which she tearfully replies “no” that breaks Adele’s heart into a million little pieces.
Adele asks Emma if she still loves her, and she shakes her head in response. Emma is hurt and full of grief for herself due to the loss of the relationship as she felt that everything she felt for Adele and with Adele all came back in full force when she momentarily gave in to Adele’s passion. Emma is helpless in witnessing her despair but nevertheless reassures her that she feels an infinite tenderness for her that will last and she will continue to cherish for the rest of her life. Poor Adele can only sob in response and tries to joke about being prone to crying as she tries to make light of her overwhelming feelings of hopelessness.
Magical Arab: Adèle's only friend at Emma's party, an Arab actor who's typecasted as Islamic terrorists because of his origins (and almost becomes the Only Sane Man by his second appearance in the final scene).
Male Gaze: The sex scenes are accused of suffering from this, though others have pointed out that the scenes appeal to lesbians as well and even with the male gaze it's nevertheless good to see a portrayal of a healthy, passionate woman-on-woman sex scene.
Measuring the Marigolds: Averted with Emma and played straight with Adele. Emma is more intellectual and finds great delight in analyzing and critiquing the works of great artists while Adele is more visceral, raw and more concerned with being in the moment. In one of the most beautiful scenes in the film, Adele explains that she does not like it when a teacher dissects literature into pieces for study for it hampers her imagination and it prevents her from fully experiencing the intricacy of emotions that she gets from reading.
The Missus and the Ex: Lise is technically Emma's common law wife since they are raising a child together and plans to be with her indefinitely. At the gallery, Emma keeps looking at Adele from time to time while entertaining her guest's questions but she was discomfited when she turned to look at Adele at exactly the right moment when Lise approaches her to have a polite conversation
Muse Abuse: Intensionally or not, Emma does this to Adele.
No Bisexuals: There's criticism of the movie being painted as a "lesbian love story" when Adele has shown to be capable of having romantic tension and intimate encounters with men. The fact that the film doesn't choose to explore Adele's possible bisexuality doesn't help.
Oh, Crap: Happens twice in the movie. Adele's "tell" when she's caught lying expresses itself when her jaw tenses. This has happened in both occasions
Adele is totally afraid of the dire consequences that are to happen as Emma asks her who was the guy who dropped her off
Adele has been running out of options on how to dodge her bullying friends' questions on what her relationship with the blue haired tomboy is after they saw them leave together without Adele saying goodbye to them the day before.
Opposites Attract: Deconstructed. It just doesn't work out in the long run. Emma and Adele's relationship is based on strong physical attraction, but their different character traits and interests ultimately drive them apart.
Pastimes Prove Personality: Emma's snooty and snobbish friends find it no longer interesting to carry on a conversation with Adele, after finding out that she's a school teacher whom they think may not be adequate enough to participate in their discussions about high art.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Abdellatif Kechiche completely diverged from the comic book and he extended this agenda to his actresses by encouraging them to diverge from his own script through improvisation. Kechiche made use of the advantages that film offered such as doing lingering shots of Adele in every moment of her life to convey her emotions and passion in order to give her character more depth as well as using his techniques to draw out realistic performances from his actresses to give them more complexities. He wanted his actresses to react and not to act so as to give the film a raw effect and for it to have a huge emotional impact on the audience. He also took advantage of leaving the camera running in order to give the audience the feeling that they are witnessing and experiencing Adele's important moments with her.
Secret Relationship: Adèle introduces Emma to her parents as her philosophy tutor and her mother even thanks her for helping Adèle improve her grades. Emma was a little hurt by this to judge from her facial expression but later appears to brush it off after they have sex later in Adele's room and jokingly asks her if she's enjoying her philosophy lessons.
Seme: A lesbian version. Emma is the dominant partner in the relationship and is apparent that she owns the house they live in. She is also the top in their sexual encounters.
Simple-Minded Wisdom: Adèle innocently asks Emma why they call it Fine Arts meaning are there ugly ones. Emma answers no but briefly considers her question and concedes that indeed some can be ugly but it could be subjective.
Single-Target Sexuality: Although Adele sleeps with men on different occasions, she did this out of loneliness and peer pressure but ultimately only has eyes for Emma. She is understandably devastated and depressed even after three years since they broke up.
"I miss you. I miss not touching each other. Not seeing each other, not breathing in each other. I want you. All the time. No one else."
Slice of Life: This film is a slice-of-life lesbian coming-of-age story.
Stealth Insult: Emma gives a back handed compliment to Adele's father saying that his bolognese is "simple" but sumptuous.
Stepford Smiler: It is heartbreaking to see Adele smiling and doing her best not to break down into tears during the folk dance with her students. It is only when they all left the classroom for the summer that she breaks down entirely.
The second song at the bar scene "Live for Today" foreshadows Adele's fate later in the movie.
Lykke Li's "I Follow Rivers" is the perfect song that encapsulates on how Adele feels about Emma while she's dancing alone at her birthday party. She misses her terribly and is melancholic that the most important person in her life can't share this moment with her.
The Spanish music in the bar is "Mi Corazoncito" by Aventura where Adele dances and kisses a male colleague. Following her insecurities that Emma is becoming more distant from her, the song perfectly captures Adele's insecurity about the state of their relationship while being unable to deny how much Emma is very much her world. While it wasn't emphasized nor given much importance, it also reveals Adele's slight discomfort at being found out about her relationship with a woman.
The most romantic and sweetest scene happens when Adele and Emma talk after having sex in the former's room as Emma whispers Mon, Amour to Adele while she tethers her from her powerful orgasm and is shown to be the height of their honeymoon phase. It is also quite funny that Adele and Emma can share a beautiful conversation where they talk about random things considering that they have spent most of their scenes basking in each other's passionate sexual energy. This is particularly noteworthy since the viewers have noticed that there is no formal declaration of love between the two but it is positively endearing when we are entreated to one that can qualify as such.
Their conversation after Emma's party where the two lay in bed together can serve as a contrast for the aforementioned scene. This is also a hint of what appears to be irreconcilable differences between the couple as Emma attempts to encourage Adele to find other creative outlets aside from teaching. This also gives an indication of the complexity of the characters as the audience is shown to their divergent attitudes towards career and future plans. Emma is shown to have Adele's best interests in mind but was made aware that she doesn't think highly of Adele's career although she does have a point. Adele is shown to be absolutely devoted to Emma and it is true that her work is a valid creative outlet yet Emma is correct in this regard that she shouldn't exhaust her efforts in only a few aspects of her life for this wouldn't be sufficient to bring her self-confidence. It would also lead her to think of herself as more than worthy that she would not only base her self worth on how much she is needed by those that she loves and cares for.
Tender Tears: Adele wears her heart on her sleeve and is very passionate which makes her very emotional and cries at the slightest provocation whenever she's moved or feeling that she's being inauthentic.
Tomboy: Emma. She's too feminine to be described as butch and too masculine to be considered as a Lipstick Lesbian. Soft butch would be more accurate.
Uke: Adele is the Uke and plays the role of the housewife and the submissive partner in the relationship, and also the more emotionally mature one.
Woman Scorned: Emma is DEFINITELY not the forgiving type. She is frightening in her rage when she confronts Adele after she sees her passionately kissing a male colleague.
Your Cheating Heart: Adele sleeps with a male colleague from the school that she works for. She did so out of crippling insecurity and paralyzing fear that Emma is becoming more distant and even turns her down for sex. By her reaction, it appears that this has never happened before.