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Blue Is the Warmest Color 

The love affair of two young lesbians is charted over its rise and fall in this French drama

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Abdellatif Kechiche's drama recounts the relationship between two young French women. Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a gawky high school student, still finding herself, when she meets Emma (Lea Seydoux), a blue-haired college student. The attraction is instant and mutual, and the pair quickly becomes a couple. But as such things are wont to go, the course of young love is fraught and too often fleeting.

Blue was the big winner at Cannes this year, and subsequently generated a lot of chatter about its lengthy sex scene between the two women. It's up to each viewer to determine whether this explicit (but oddly prudish - there are no genitals on display) material is exploitative. (I would certainly argue that its length doesn't add anything to the larger narrative, and Mr. Kechiche clearly exhibits a voyeuristic fascination with backsides.) But patrons should be warned not to see Blue for the sex alone: The film is nearly three hours long, and being French, there is a lot of moody silence, broken up by discussion of art, literature and philosophy.

Both actresses are very good, with Exarchopoulos in the trickier role of having to convey several years of change, often with little or no dialogue. Beyond the hype, Blue is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale that is often quietly wise about the deeper issues that can undermine the early ecstasy of young love. (Or really, any love affair beyond its heady start.) But I'm still not convinced we need three hours to relate this.

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