More than the sum of its parts, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour character study of a French high-school girl’s first love -- with a slightly older female artist -- benefits greatly from the emotive power of actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos (as the shy younger lover, Adèle) and Léa Seydoux, as the more experienced but equally vulnerable Emma. That the two young women engage in vigorous, graphic sex is probably less important than the way Kechiche and his writing collaborator Ghalia Lacroix (adapting the comic book by Julie Maroh) frame their relationship emotionally, but the sweaty physicality proclaims its own space. So too does Kechiche’s use of tight close-ups. We get the sense that only in Adèle’s and Emma’s feverish bumping and grinding is there any hope of innocence for them. And that once that innocence is lost, it’s gone forever. French title: La vie d’Adèle (179 min.).
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