Adele's life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself and ultimately finds herself through love and loss
179 | Drama, Romance
Adèle is an introverted 15-year-old high-school student whose classmates gossip constantly about boys. While crossing the street one day, she passes by a woman with short blue hair and is instantly attracted. She dates a boy at her school for a short while and they have sex, but she is ultimately dissatisfied and breaks off their relationship. After having vivid fantasies about the woman she saw on the street and having one of her female friends behave flirtatiously towards her, she becomes troubled about her sexual identity. One friend, the openly gay Valentin, seems to understand her confusion and takes her to a gay dance bar. After some time, Adèle leaves and walks into a lesbian bar, where she experiences assertive advances from some of the women. The blue haired woman is also there and intervenes, claiming Adèle is her cousin to those pursuing Adèle. The woman is Emma, a graduating art student. They become friends and begin to spend more time with each other. Adèle's friends suspect her of being a lesbian and ostracise her at school. Despite the backlash, she becomes very close to Emma. Their bond increases and before long, the two share a kiss at a picnic. They later have sex and begin a passionate relationship. Emma's artsy family is very welcoming to the couple, but Adèle tells her conservative, working-class parents that Emma is just a tutor for philosophy class.
In the years that follow, the two women live with each other as lovers. Adèle finishes school and joins the teaching staff at a local elementary school, while Emma tries to move forward with her painting career. Adèle feels ill at ease among Emma's intellectual friends; and Emma belittles her teaching career, encouraging her to find fulfillment in writing, Adèle enjoys playing the stereotypical feminine role in their relationship but Emma becomes physically and emotionally distant. They gradually begin to realise how little they have in common. Emotional complexities manifest in the relationship and Adèle, in an impulsive moment of loneliness and confusion, sleeps with a male colleague.
Emma becomes aware of the brief fling and kicks Adèle out of their apartment, leaving Adèle heartbroken and alone. Time passes and although Adèle finds satisfaction in her job as a kindergarten teacher, an indescribable sadness begins to overwhelm her. The two eventually meet again in a restaurant. Adèle is still very deeply in love with Emma and despite the powerful connection that is clearly still there between them, Emma is now in a committed partnership with Lise, the pregnant woman at the party they threw a few years earlier, who now has a young daughter. It is implied that the two had known each other for years, and had become reacquainted during the party. Adèle is devastated, but holds it in. Emma admits that she does not feel sexually fulfilled but has accepted it as a part of her new phase in life. She reassures Adèle, though, that their relationship was special: "I have infinite tenderness for you. I always will. All my life long." The two part on amicable terms.
The film concludes with Adèle at Emma's new art exhibition. Hanging on one wall is a nude painting that Emma once did of her during the sensual bloom of their life together. Though Emma acknowledges her, her attention is primarily on the gallery's other guests and Lise. Adèle congratulates Emma on the success of her art and leaves after a brief conversation with a young man she met earlier in the film. He chases after her but heads in the wrong direction. Adèle walks away into an ambiguous future as a hang is played over the soundtrack and the film ends