It’s hard to judge a movie that comes highly recommended, but equally hard to judge one with no context.
“It’s a very well acted movie.”
“Where does a sex scene end and pornography begin?”
I was expecting lesbian sex and a girl with blue hair and magnetic charm, which I got. I didn’t know to expect that the blue haired girl is secondary. The main character is Adele, a high school junior who falls in love with the blue haired art student, Emma. It’s through Adele’s eyes that we see most of the film. The discovery or acceptance that she’s gay, love at first site, hopes raised when her love speaks to her, hopes dashed when she finds out she has a girlfriend, the budding romance, the passion, the plateau and the breakup.
Things move slowly. Every time you think there will be action, other plot lines to accompany the romance, they slink away. Everything is background only to their relationship, to Adele’s view of it. She’s desperately in love. We know before she does that it’s over.
It was there from the beginning. Emma and her parents, artists all of them, don’t believe that Adele truly wants to be a teacher. It’s only that she hasn’t thought bigger, they think. Emma encourages her to do something she loves. Adele insists that she is.
Emma’s family serves shrimp. Adele’s family serves spaghetti and homemade sauce. “The pasta is delicious,” Emma says. “Simple but… very good.” They come from different worlds. Adele’s parents see art as a luxury, working in art, something you do only once or if you have a stable source of income.
That’s ultimately what divides them.
Some movies are about a slice of time, about something that happened. This follows Adele’s life. It’s unclear for how many years. There are no captions to tell us. One minute she’s eating dinner as an 11th grader and the next she’s an assistant teacher and living with Emma.
The movie is also known as Adele: Chapters 1 & 2. This must be chapter 2.
Emma no longer has blue hair. Adele throws a party for Emma’s friends. She’s been modeling for Emma. She makes a giant pot of pasta. Can she cook anything else? But Emma tells her later, “You made a good impression on my friends.”
There’s something lost between them. Adele and Emma barely spend any time together at the party in their yard. Adele eyes Emma with Lise.
I loved watching Adele dance. She doesn’t dance with abandon. It always takes her a minute or two to get into it, and then she’s someone a little different, less deliberate, less sullen, more alive. I also liked the dialogue. There’s a lot of it. The conversations in Adele’s high school lit class about love –
“I want you to think about the idea of predestination in their encounters, okay? Like what happens with love at first sight.”
about Sartre in the park –
“He started an intellectual revolution which set an entire generation free.”
the art discussions at Emma’s party –
“I’m working on morbidity in Shiele’s oeuvre.”
The teacher sets up Adele’s meeting Emma, but would I have caught it if I hadn’t already known the premise of the movie?
There’s a lot of spaghetti eating, and Adele is constantly playing with her hair and almost always has a hair in her face. Why? Adele never makes it to New York, where “everything is possible.”
There’s a lot you see the second time around. You see the details instead of the big picture. The pieces are wonderful as standalone pieces. The whole? Maybe because I tried to read to much into it, to see a theme from beginning to end, to understand why these pieces were needed for this whole, it felt unfinished, unsatisfying.
It leaves you with a feeling of regret like Eli says in the beginning, “Regret. Regret about not filling the emptiness in your heart.” He’s talking about missed chances. I mean that Emma and Adele don’t remain together. It feels like they belong together, like it was true love. Emma should have given her another chance.