You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live





Adele Exarchopoulos: Meet the face of a star

Sundance Selects

A moment packed with erotic longing and self-aware intensity — no, not the much ballyhooed sex scenes in “Blue Is the Warmest Color” but a scene even more naked.

Early in the film, one of Adele’s (Adele Exarchopoulos) high school friends (Alma Jodorowsky) casually flirts with her, testing her, while they sit outside the school smoking cigarettes. She tells Adele, who already suspects her own nature and struggles not to betray her discomfort, that she thinks Adele is cute, and then kisses her. Emboldened, Adele follows her friend into the bathroom the next day and attempts another kiss. “I didn’t think you’d get so hooked,” the friend remarks as she pulls away, leaving Adele alone with the dismissive retort, “Don’t worry — this won’t change anything between us.”

Continue reading below

Adele’s reaction — embarrassment, fear, rejection, the squashing of erotic impulse — is all there in Exarchopoulos’s eyes. Adele’s emotions are laid bare throughout the film, but never so painfully as in this moment where she first unmasks herself. It passes, of course, and leads to the more volcanic relationship with Emma (Lea Seydoux) that makes up the rest of the film. But it’s in that first soul-baring moment of exposure and risk that we ache most for her.

This scene comes right out of Julie Maroh’s 2010 graphic novel of the same title that was the primary source for the screenplay, which could be one of the reasons it feels so authentic. The other, of course, is Exarchopoulos, whose brimming eyes and quivering mouth in close-up register every emotion with startling rawness and sensitivity. Like the best silent film stars, she doesn’t need dialogue. She has the face.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of