FILM: Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest ColorBlue Is The Warmest Color is an odd title for a film shot with a camera known for it’s slight yellow/green bias. Where the RED has been the camera of choice for similarly scaled productions (or the choice of aesthetically apathetic Hollywood films like Dennis Dugan’s Grown Ups 2), Blue was shot on the the newer, smaller, and cheaper Canon c300. Even more telling is that instead of prime lenses, the production invested in two gorgeous Angénieux zoom lenses,  each one costing twice as much as the camera. This investment in zoom lenses over fixed primes certainly implies a dedication to keeping the production fast and flexible, the results are easily seen, everything from the lighting to the skin tones to the performances are natural and by the end of the movie, these incredible actresses feel like people you’ve known a long time. Blue stands out because of the chemistry and charisma of it’s stars and the natural world it inhabits. Conversations in the movie are mostly composed of tight close ups with constantly changing spatial dynamics to reflect Emma’s changing identity and her difficulty maintaining control over her desires.

The limits of the camera are noticeable too. Director Abdellatif Kechiche was forced to have no slow motion in the film, as it would have been recorded at only 720p resolution. But overall, the camera performed extremely well. If you had told me that I was looking at 4k footage I would have believed you, I don’t think I’ve ever seen 1080p look this good. The slower f stop implied by zoom lenses was clearly no worry for these filmmakers, with the camera’s native ISO at 800 I didn’t see any video noise on screen. The depth of field is on the shallow end of standard throughout, which I don’t think will disappoint any cinema goer this year, what with the hegemony of razor thin depth of field that’s become so fashionable (see 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene for a particularly nauseating example). Overall, it’s easy to see why this won the Palm D’Or in a slow year. A refreshingly honest (if somewhat forgettable) look at a relationship, shot with a great camera.

Blue is the Warmest Color is in select theaters now.

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