The surprise winner of the top prize at Cannes, this three-hour French drama is unlike any movie we've ever seen, getting so deeply under the skin of its central character that we find universal truths in the story even if we can't identify with it. It's an extraordinary film that holds us in rapt attention, shaking us up until we are forced to look into our own souls.
It takes place in Lille, northern France, where 15-year-old deep-thinker Adele (Exarchopolous) is obsessed with literature and philosophy, trying to figure out who she is. She gives in to pressure from friends to date the cutest guy in school (Lahuerte), but knows it's not right. Mainly because she can't get the blue-haired Emma (Seydoux) out of her mind. Emma is a bit older, and as they get to know each other their romance blossoms from sex to love. But over the following years, they neglect each other, becoming distracted by other things until they reach a breaking point.
The script's main focus is on three main elements in life: food, art and sex. And all three swirl throughout the film. Despite the premise, this isn't a coming-out story, even though Adele is terrified to reveal her sexuality to her parents (Salee and Recoing) and her friends. Instead this is a detailed exploration of a young woman's first encounter with the complexities of love. So the extended sex scenes are never gratuitous, because they reveal the changing bond between Adele and Emma.
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