“Blue Is the Warmest Color” is proof that the cinema’s greatest gift to us is the close-up. No other medium gets so physically near to human experience as it unfolds in time; no other technique teases us with revelations of intimacy and every so often delivers. In Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour epic about a young woman’s coming of age — the top prize-winner at last May’s Cannes Film Festival and a scandale ever since — the camera hardly ever seems to leave the face of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) as it moves from pouty adolescent sensuality through physical ecstasy to a slowly hardening distress. If the filmmaker could somehow push past the barrier of his heroine’s skin to capture her madly firing neurons, you feel he would.
If he had, though, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” would be a different movie, and maybe not the one Kechiche intended. The public brouhaha surrounding this film has to do with three lengthy and explicit sex scenes that fill out the second hour, between Adèle and her older art-student girlfriend Emma (Léa Seydoux), but the movie is more properly about our larger appetites — for love, connection, life fully and vibrantly lived — and how, at the end of the day, we still end up hungry.