Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

November 12, 2013

CALLERI: Extraordinary French film offers honesty about romance

Niagara Gazette — A few months ago, I praised Cate Blanchett’s performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and wrote that I expected her to be nominated for a best actress Oscar. Up until a week ago, I hadn’t seen any acting from a woman in a movie that came close to Blanchett’s perfection.

But then, while watching another film with the word blue in the title, I knew immediately that Blanchett had some genuine competition.

The movie is called “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” It won the Palme d’Or (the Golden Palm), the highest prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The jury, which was presided over by Steven Spielberg, knew it had seen an extraordinary work. Not only did it give the festival’s highest award to the movie and its director, Abdellatif Kechiche, but it also declared that the two actresses in “Blue Is The Warmest Color” would share in the honor.

By the most amazing coincidence, my French friend Gautier Coiffard, who is, as with most people in France, completely in love with movies (he has written about them), was staying at my house on the Sunday in May when the awards were announced at Cannes. We had seen the Rolling Stones in Toronto the night before. On his laptop, we watched the prizes being given out live via French television. The moment when the Palme d’Or was announced was electrifying. Gautier translated that the jury had declared that it had decided to take “the exceptional step” to also honor both of the film’s actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. It was a rare moment.

Having now seen “Blue Is The Warmest Color,” I know the special nature of that evening and the decision by the jury made perfect sense. It is one of the best movies of this or any other year. Academy Award nominations may go to both women, but if only one is selected, Exarchopoulos must be in the running for best actress.

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