Adèle Exarchopoulos and Salim Kechiouche in Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Adèle Exarchopoulos delivers one of the breakout performances of the year in Blue Is the Warmest Color, a shockingly beautiful—and sometimes just plain shocking—movie about a young woman discovering her sexuality.

Exarchopoulos gives a performance that feels honest at every turn; she has an incredibly expressive face that belongs on the big screen. Léa Seydoux (the assassin from the last Mission: Impossible film) is also powerful as Emma, the blue-haired woman Adele sets her sights upon, and falls in love with. The two are wonderful together, providing real soul in a tremendously affecting love story.

However, director Abdellatif Kechiche overdoes it with what have to be the most explicit and overlong sex scenes ever displayed on commercial movie screens. While the scenes are somewhat overdone, they don’t diminish the power of the film. I’m not surprised that the actresses are a little pissed at their director in the aftermath.

Still, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux kept me riveted for nearly three hours, and that’s more than I can say about any Hollywood romance outside of Titanic.

Blue Is the Warmest Color is now playing at the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).