This very French take on young love comes in at over three hours in length. The director was intransigent in his perfectionism and this is how he demanded the film be. At the end of the running we leaned that it was supposed to be divided into two chapters, but I don’t recall any actual chapter break / intermission on the DVD.
It’s probably best to break it after the first 90 minutes or so. The scenes are well acted and often very good, natural, but so many of them wouldn’t have made the cut in Hollywood. American audiences may not be so patient.
The film, of course, has extended raw sex scenes between the two girls. They may have ran a bit too long, but then so did the rest of the movie, and so proportionally they make sense.
It’s a very recognizable coming of age story with a likeable French girl Adele, a kindergarten teacher, who doesn’t really fit into the eccentric art world of Emma, the blue-haired seductress. They make a go of it, hiding their relationship as needed, but human weakness and temptation throw their ship toward the rocks.
The style is claustrophobic, nearly every shot a close-up of Adele. It’s always right up against her cheek, and we see every side of her imaginable. The production ran way long, snatching up footage for months after the initial production schedule had expired. This was a very good idea, something Kubrick would do. Time is the crucial ingredient that allowed film to progress beyond the mundane, beyond the script and the production schedules that seek to limit the possibities.
Neither actress would ever work with director Kechiche again. The film, though, won the Palme d’Or and launched their careers in a way they could never have hoped for. We don’t see such raw, powerful performances very often. So credit is due.