Sure, the sex scenes are pretty graphic, the actresses are exceptional and their relationship is really involving… But we *have* seen other films do similar things, and I wouldn’t go as far as calling it the best anything of all time.
That being said, it is undeniably a great picture. The best thing about it has got to be the emotionally complex performance by Adèle Exarchopoulos as the titular character, a high school girl who discovers her sexuality and who she really is over the course of several years and nearly three hours. Three hours, really? Yes, really, and they go by quickly because of the smooth, confident storytelling. Things never feel rushed, but it never seem like they’re being stretched out too much either.
Much of the story deals with Adèle falling in love/lust at first sight with Emma, a blue-haired older girl with an alien, otherworldly quality played by the excellent Léa Seydoux. The two of them have tangible chemistry, in and out of bed, and their romance is idyllic at first, though it eventually shows cracks, in part because of their different lifestyles (Adèle wants to be a teacher, Emma feels that anything other than doing art isn’t fulfilling enough).
“La vie d’Adèle” is beautifully shot in a very natural way, with lots of close-ups and handheld camerawork. Equally sensual and thoughtful, it’s very attentive to faces and bodies, often focusing on action and movement even though it’s very talkative. Among other things, it perfectly captures desire on screen, which is no small feat.
I loved watching all of it, really… Even though I’m still not sure why some are practically calling it the greatest movie of all time. Let’s stick with one of the year’s best!