Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Aurélien Recoing
Adèle is a lycéenne on the brink of discovering her sexual orientation. As she prepares her baccalauréat and enters a career as an infant school teacher, we witness her switch from a heterosexual relationship to a torrid love affair with an older fine arts student. While she becomes truly fulfilled as a person, she never loses an inner sense of vulnerability that leads to infidelity and disaster.
This superbly detailed anatomy of a young person's emotional life is based on a comic strip but recalls heights of French cinema past, such as La maman et la putain, A nos amours, and, in its quotidian mise en scène and Lille setting, the films of the Dardenne brothers. It was also sexually very graphic for its time, and perhaps this was more than partly felt on account of the ages of the leading actresses (19 and 27, although Seydoux looked younger). What distinguishes it from other films is the extent to which, barring some rather brutal interrogation on the part of her schoolmates, the youngster is free to pursue her self-realization unhindered, and without recrimination. It is also an intense watch, by virtue of Exarchopoulos's superb performance (she was co-recipient of the Palme d'Or along with Seydoux and Kechiche), and there is a real sense at the end of a loss that will never be regained. On the debit side it is full of longueurs and repetitions, notably in the interminable party scenes.