Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue is the Warmest Color,” winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is often remarkable and often exasperating. It’s about the romance between Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), whom we first meet as a shy fifteen15-year-old Lille high school student, and Emma (Léa Seydoux), a rebellious university fine arts student whose short blonde hair is streaked with blue. With a tremulous hesitation that becomes passionately all-consuming, the women become lovers and, for a time, soul mates.
At nearly three hours, “Blue,” which has some of the most explicit sex scenes ever shot for a mainstream movie, is far more attenuated than it needs to be. The longueurs pile up. Kechiche is also way too fond of big, looming close-ups. But the two actresses, seen up close or from far away, are extraordinary. The emotional trajectory of their passion is entirely believable and ultimately heartbreaking. Grade: B+ (Rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content.)