1. Adele Exarchopoulos: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Some actors have “that face,” other actors have “those eyes.” Exarchopolous has both. Her’s was not the most polished performance this year, or the most mature, but it is the one that effected me the most emotionally. It’s the one that stuck in my head and refused to leave. I don’t think it sentimental for one to give marks for that: cinema, by it’s very nature is an art of manipulation of the emotions of the viewer, and actors are the vessels through which the viewers emphasize with the characters.
Emotion is the game. Her performance was raw, genuine, vulnerable, charming, and as mentioned above, unforgettable. My heart broke into smaller and smaller pieces with her every expression, and the second half of the film was devastating. Blue was long and quite frankly felt so, but we spend every minute with Adele (also the name of character). I honestly felt it a pleasure to spend three hours with her character, and I felt it a privilege to be allowed to observe and experience through her, the heart-wrenching, transformative experience. She quite simply carries the film.
Exarchopoulos’ early scenes with Lea Seadoux are especially touching and effective. Watching the fascination and longing on her face as she’s falling in love is just a pure cinema pleasure. The emotion she displays is so raw and exposed at times you feel uncomfortable watching her.
The sex scenes are well-publicized, perhaps overly so, but that should not minimize the physical and emotional sacrifice required for roles such as her’s and Lea Seydoux’s, who was also outstanding in this film. Regardless of how they feel about it now, the work is stunning and uncompromising. I liken her turn here to Li Wen’s phenomenal work in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. I can’t say enough good things and I feel very strongly that a seminal, breakout performance was overshadowed by hyperbolic press and “controversy,” most of which served no purpose as far as I could see. In the most vital ways, the film speaks for itself and the performance stands out, in the film itself as well as the larger scene of international cinema.