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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oscar's Forgotten Nominees: Adèle Exarchopoulos

I know I'm super late to the party, but can we talk about Blue is the Warmest Color for a minute? I've finally gotten around to watching this three-hour romantic drama, directed and co-written by Abdellatif Kechiche, and can say that its star Adèle Exarchopoulos should have definitely been among the best actress Oscar nominees (along with Mother of George's Danai Gurira, but I digress). 

While I think the film shares many of its themes with fellow Oscar shutout, Pariahit is Exarchopoulos who makes the film so much more than what it is. As Adèle, a high school teen on the precipice of exploring her sexuality while spiraling head first into a carnal love affair with Emma, an older art student (Léa Seydoux), Exarchopoulos is downright magnetic, absorbing each scene with such desperate emotion that it seems like she's always pleading with you to understand her, to love her.  

It's gut-wrenching to watch as Adèle struggles to pronounce her true feelings while at the same time engaging in a relationship that is developing at an exhaustively mature rate. Though she is hesitant to confide in her friends at school about her true feelings (they even antagonize her about their suspicions), she escapes into a more honest world with Emma, her friends and her parents--all of whom allow Adèle the freedom to be who she is, even if her identity may be as fragile as her new romance. 

Exarchopoulos beautifully captures a complicated journey that is never quite complete by the film's ending, but you feel that it has armed her with a better sense of self. Or at the very least, to see love for what it really can be--passionate, heartbreaking, and complex--yet yearn for it at the same time. And isn't that something we all want to experience, even once? 

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