I finally got to see this controversial film. I left it with mixed views. The story is of Adele who is unsatisfied sexually and emotionally until she meets Emma. She is a suppressed lesbian and this is drawn out by Emma a free spirit of a painter. The relationship is intense both physically and emotionally but ends sadly .
The best feature of the film is the quality of both actresses’ performances. Adele is played by Adele Exarchopolos and Emma by Lea Seycart, both of whom give nuanced, reflective portrayals. The worst feature of the film is its length. It’s three hours long and would have benefited from drastic editing. There was one scene when Adele, a teacher of young children, takes her charges to a beach where someone is covered neck to toe in sand as she goes for a swim. Quite the significance of this, I know not.
The film is known neither for its acting or criticised for its length, but for the lesbian scenes in which love making is uninhibited. As both women have intense desires for one other, it’s neither gratuitous nor commercial. I did wonder – as one does – whether actresses or porn stars do these scenes better. Petty jealousies begin to creep in as Adele has a liaison with a man, whilst Emma is solely lesbian.
It does bear the traditional features of French films: two lengthy meal sequences, much philosophising and an end which is up in the air.