“Blue Is the Warmest Color “ is drawing attention for its sex scenes. The sex is interesting, controversial and important, but the film is also richer than many people seem to think.

Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a high school girl full of spirit and pretty much empty of direction. She’s picked up by Emma (Léa Seydoux), who’s a bit older.

They seem to fall madly in love -- and they make love a lot. It’s unusual for sex in the movies that director Abdellatif Kechiche shows love scenes from beginning to end, not just sensational bits, so you can see how the two lovers initiate sex and how they relate to each other physically and intimately.

There’s a good bit of comment that the sex sequences are corrupt because Kechiche is a man, and he’s filming Lesbian sex, and therefore he shows it for male tastes.  

I don’t know that I can unravel the complexities of that one. But for me, a male viewer, those sex scenes are crucial to the whole of the film.

Within the world of sex, Adele and Emma are equal, but outside of sex, when they have their clothes on and when they interact with other people, Adele is the naïve working-class kid and Emma is the older, chic, sophisticated art student with socially liberal parents.

Emma has a prosperous family behind her but Adele needs to have a job. At first, it looks as though Emma is opening up a marvelous new world for Adele, but it comes with a good hit of condescension on the part of Emma and her family – and it implies that Adele’s life ain’t quite good enough.

So when the two young women leave the bedroom, Adele doesn’t really stand a chance, and that’s where “Blue Is the Warmest Color” opens up its affecting vision of how the world of sex and the social world can cause each other a lot of problems.

In the great 1976 Japanese sex film “In the Realm of the Senses” by Nagisa Ôshima, an authoritarian rich man pulls a servant girl into his bedroom, only to learn that on that playing field she’s far livelier, more daring and tougher than he is. 

“Blue Is the Warmest Color “ doesn’t take the sex to the extremes that “In the Realm of the Senses” embraces but “Blue” has a real sense of how two people who do sex together exceptionally well, find that things are difficult when it’s not sex time.

It’s no surprise that even terrific sex is not strong enough to hold two smart, spirited young women together and the heart of “Blue Is the Warmest Color “ lies in the picture of Adele’s struggles afterwards.

Adele is the one who always has the most to lose but she’s the one who has to find her way in her world without any help.

The film puts the images of that vulnerability into Adele’s clothes and her shoes. Her walk looks uncomfortable, she’s got an uneasy balance on her feet as she nearly lurches down the street.

Her clothes have lost their spark and Adele seems beaten down. The light’s gone out of her.

Earlier in “Blue Is the Warmest Color “, Adele is a student teacher. She likes the kids,  she’s imaginative and, most of all, she’s full of life and she’s part of the bright colors of her classroom.

Later, when she’s grown into a young woman making her way on her own, she starts to look obedient to the education system and less delightful, more worried about classroom procedure and student behavior than engaged with kids in the way that brings them to life.

You yearn for Adele to rediscover all that repressed sexiness.

Acclaimed French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche's latest, based on Julie Maroh's graphic novel, was the sensation of this year's Cannes Film Festival even before it was awarded the Palme d'Or.  Adèle Exarchopoulos is a young woman whose longings and ecstasies and losses are charted across a span of several years.  Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) is the older woman who excites her desire and becomes the love of her life.  Kechiche's movie is, like the films of John Cassavetes, an epic of emotional transformation that pulses with gestures, embraces, furtive exchanges, and arias of joy and devastation.  It is a profoundly moving hymn to both love and life.