What do you say to French actresses at the height of their beauty, especially if you don’t speak their language? Lucky for this reporter, the more intimidating of the two leads in Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” Lea Seydoux, was too busy filming to attend the reception in her honor on Nov. 19 at the French consul’s residence in Beverly Hills, leaving the heavy lifting to her onscreen partner, Adele Exarchopoulos.
Statuesque and wise beyond her years, Exarchopoulos, a few days shy of 20, talked about the perils of first love and carrying a movie — her first big starring role — on her shoulders in a way that seemed interchangeable.
“You have to protect yourself, create a kind of mystery, a distance,” she says about matters of the heart. “But it was not the same story (for me),” she adds, drawing the distinction between her own experiences and that of her movie character, also named Adele.
As for this rather auspicious debut in the international spotlight?
“I’m discovering everything, from shadow to light in one year, sometimes it makes me feel fragile,” she says. “You want to prove to everyone that, Yeah! You can make another movie as good as the first one. And you can feel that everyone’s going to judge you.”
A query on the difference between American culture — with it’s puritanical attitudes about sex (at least in films) and obsession with violence — and that of the French, which seems more relaxed about intimacy and less fixated on guns and mayhem, triggers a mini polemic on the controversy surrounding “Blue” that, in her mind, amounts to much ado about nothing.
“Everybody tries to judge, tries to analyze what is right in the cinema,” she says emphatically. “You can’t judge sex between two people when it’s so organic. There are so many different ways to have sex, so I think it’s not really fair. I think it’s not the point. It’s like a child; when you say to a child, ‘don’t watch this movie,’ and then (the parents) go to work and (they) watch it and it’s disturbing and disgusting but it’s exciting, too. But the movie’s so rich, why people focus on the sex I don’t understand.”