"How do you understand that the heart is missing something?" asks Abdellatif Kechiche at the outset of his Palme D'Or winner.
The answer is as intense as a movie can get: the ecstasy and pain of first love, true love, in all its glorious simplicity and complexity.
First, loves are both the same and different.
The bravery of Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue Is The Warmest Color" resides not so much in the fact that it portrays the narrative of same-sex first love as it does in what some would consider epic detail.
The befuddled open-heartedness of Kechiche's conception results in a three-hour girl-meets-girl narrative.
They aren't fast-paced hours, and they aren't supposed to be; Kechiche, who is adapting a graphic book by Julie Maroh, wants his audience to savor and identify with specific minutiae.
While there have been many film romances similar to this one, none have been done in such an ambitiously engaging manner.
Their romance begins, as does the film's central question: What does it mean to be homosexual if you don't participate in gay culture?
Is there really a thing as the gay culture that is distinct from homosexuality?
Is there a special place in society for homosexuals because of their physical and psychological characteristics?
Exarchopoulos' Adèle is a quiet, intelligent high-schooler who is lonely and unsure of herself in social situations.
A good-looking male who likes her is rewarded with a brief romance, but he is only John the Baptist to Emma, played by Séydoux, a twenty-something art student.
The love spark between them is as powerful as a lightning bolt.
Emma had blue hair as the love affair began, but as time passes, the blue color fades.
As Kechiche demonstrates, this is a terrible indicator.
Their love has cooled. Emma is always the more senior, dominant partner: more educated, more worldly, and higher up the social ladder.
Kechiche illustrates this by having Emma bring Adèle to supper with her mother and stepfather.
They have no secrets about their love, and they eat oysters in style.
When Emma meets Adèle's conservative family, the meal is more basic - spag bol – and Emma is forced to pretend to have a boyfriend.
When Emma's painting career takes off, Kechiche illustrates how she is gradually outgrowing Adèle, yet it is Adèle who acquires an emotional maturity that Emma, the more pompous careerist, cannot match.
The final sequence of the film is heartbreakingly ambiguous.
But the point is, there is no assurance that Adèle or Emma will ever discover anything as extraordinary again.
The idea that they can individually go on to have a better or deeper experience is a mirage.
This isn't youthful love or first love; it's love, as catastrophic, terrible, passionate, and memorable as true love must always be.
To borrow Woody Allen, if it doesn't make the rest of your life appear to be a tremendous letdown, you're not doing it well.
This is Emma and Adèle's moment, the ultimate blaze.
The lead women are nearly totally responsible for the film's transportive quality.
They are devoted to their duties to such an extent that they may be described as ecstatic. Neither offers the faintest indication of attempting to accomplish or possess an emotional impact.
As the two lovers inevitably transition from a state of white-hot attraction and voraciousness into domesticity that presents the quintessential, and typically ugly, problems that an acolyte/ingénue arrangement presents, Adèle appears to grow up before the viewer's eyes in a way that makes Emma's self-possessed confidence appear kind of complacent.
Love hurts in this film, which is why it sticks with you.
It feels like it visually depicts the anatomy of human emotion and sexuality on a screen six inches away from you.
Transcending boundaries of self-acceptance through the portrayal of a young exploring woman experiencing first love, this movie captures the heart of young love meticulously.
It is not about sexuality, though its reputation and explicit plot points may argue otherwise. It is about awareness. It is about the process by which intelligent, feeling humans open their eyes and hearts to experiences that may not be comfortable. It is about allowing oneself to feel, love, to hurt, and to be hurt. It is about life and the growth it engenders.
Author: Akash R. Ekka
Editor: Rachita Biswas