Blue Is the Warmest Color
The colorful, electrifying romance that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm courageously dives into a young woman’s experiences of first love and sexual awakening. Blue Is the Warmest Color stars the remarkable newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos as a high schooler who, much to her own surprise, plunges into a thrilling relationship with a female twentysomething art student, played by Léa Seydoux. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, this finely detailed, intimate epic sensitively renders the erotic abandon of youth. It has captivated international audiences and been widely embraced as a defining love story for the new century.
After releasing a number of Dual-Format editions, Criterion releases Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color in a Blu-ray only edition. The 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on a dual-layer disc. Criterion has also released a separate DVD-only edition.
The film was shot in high-definition and that source was used as the basis for the transfer here. Since it never touched physical film there are no issues with film grain, damage, marks, etc. Banding is evident in in backgrounds at times, though I’m unsure if this is an issue with the transfer or something that would be inherent in the source. Other than that I couldn’t detect any other artifacts.
Colours look good, delivering sharp reds and blues, and black levels are also fairly strong, though I felt some details get lost in the shadows, maybe another limitation of the technology. Detail is strong, with finer details right down to threading in clothing coming through clearly, but the picture has a rather flat look throughout, and it’s either intentional or a product of the digital photography, I’m not entirely sure which.
There are a few minor issues, though I’m uncertain if they are caused by the cameras used to shoot the film, stylistic choices, or issues with the transfer. As it stands, the transfer probably presents the film as accurately as possible.
The film receives a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. Save for some background noises (like the wind rustling trees,) clubbing sequences, parades, and crowded areas, the audio track sticks primarily to the fronts. The film’s fairly quiet, more reflective, but there’s some decent surround work that creeps up, excellent use of bass, and dialogue, effects, and music come through crisply, with no distortion or background noise.
Trying to get the film out there as quickly as possible to capitalize on its success, Criterion is releasing the film on home video right after its theatrical release. Because of this rush it appears Criterion hasn’t finished up any supplements and is releasing the film on Blu-ray and DVD as separate movie-only editions. This may be disappointing for many but Criterion has stated they will release a Dual-Format special edition sometime in the future (there have been rumours that edition will include a different cut of the film, though I have not seen any confirmation on this so I would take it with many grains of salt.) This edition appears to be aimed more at (what remains of) the rental market, and to capitalize off of its award wins (unfortunately it was ineligible for an Oscar nomination.)
Criterion does include a few basics, though. They include the film’s American theatrical trailer along with a TV spot. They also include an insert with an essay by critic B. Ruby Rich, who addresses some of the controversies surrounding the film, but doesn’t focus too much on this area as distracts people. She gives a decent analysis of the film and how it fits into Kechiche’s other work.
It’s a shame there isn’t more but at least Criterion forewarned that there was a special edition coming. Unfortunately that means anybody wanting supplements is going to have to wait. How long is anyone’s guess.
The presentation is fine, probably as true to the digital source as possible. The Blu-ray is nicely priced for a Criterion title, with an MSRP of only $24.95, meaning you could possibly get it on sale for less than $13. But again, those concerned about supplements may want to wait: Criterion has stated they plan on releasing a special edition in the future. This current edition is really only for those that aren’t concerned about supplements or want to get their hands on the film as soon as possible, and in that case the low retail price makes it an easy recommendation for them.