March 13, 2014 Film Reviews

To fall in love is to navigate a nocturnal sea, on a wayward ramshackle raft, in the midst of a violent tempest, deprived of rudder, light or compass.

Love can involve submitting to, struggling against and surviving the turbulence and tension between desire and consummation, companionship and loneliness, heartfelt affection and lustful infatuation, unflinching loyalty and treacherous infidelity. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) famously argued that ‘existence precedes essence’, meaning that we do not have a fixed and defined human nature but, instead, are free to choose, to will and to forge our own life and subjectivity.

But things are not so simple when it comes to the chemistry of attraction. When young lovers Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Léa Seydoux) meet by chance  in co-writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), the intensity of their connection leads them to reflect that ‘orgasm precedes essence’. Meaning, perhaps, that it is our irrepressible curiosity, desire for sexual ecstasy and libidinal gratification that are motivating factors in our lives, our interactions with others and our momentarily satisfying but ultimately catastrophic romances.

An ex- is anything but an ex-. She is a memory, a post break-up epiphany, a delayed revelation, a necessary escape, a chance at redemption. Lovers may check out of the mortal motel of our lives, but they seldom leave. On the contrary, their traces register on our flesh, colonise our vocabulary, and ignite the neurons of our memory.

Can one ever alleviate the absence of former flames whose names emblazon our skin and circulate through the corridors of our unconscious?

Those with whom we shared our lives, our beds and bodies, fears and fluids — make and mark us, indefinitely. The taste of your saliva, the scent of your loins, the tang and texture of your nacreous, germinal, love honey ­— they all linger, insist, arouse…and accuse.

Every lover is a tattoo whose vibrant colours can blur, definition can diminish, appearance can be surgically altered, but whose ghost can never be exorcised. Between egregious error and unrivalled ecstasy, therein lies the allure and the inextinguishable fire of a former flame…and the tarnished beauty and ineffaceable tragedy of love (and loss). Haunting.

Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes film festival, Blue is the Warmest Colour journeys into the messy, sticky, erotically-charged, sweat-drenched, saliva-seared, cathartic carnality of sexuality, filtering its narrative of two impossible lovers through the lenses of art, literature and philosophy.

In doing so, it evinces an epic, roller-coaster relationship that is fierce, euphoric, tortuous, painful, awkward, tragic, moving and beautiful. Like something called life, like something called love.

– Dr. Varga Hosseini