Book Review: Blue is the Warmest Color

By December 27, 2013December 6th, 2021No Comments

The love story of two women captured in the film Blue is the Warmest Color has created international buzz. According to Variety Magazine, the movie has won the Palme d’Or in Cannes and the Louis Delluc prize in France as well “prizes at the British Independent Film Awards and New York Film Critics Circle.” As accolades continue to grow, many fans are reading the graphic novel by Julie Maroh from which the movie is based.

The Graphic Novel

Originally published in France, Le bleu est une coleur chaude (2010) rose to acclaim, winning the audience award at the Angouleme International Comic Festival in 2011.The English language edition emerged in 2013.

The story follows Clementine, a high school student, who falls in love with Emma, an art school student. It opens with a letter wherein Clementine writes, “I love you, Emma, you are my life.”  However, like any good romance, to get to this point, their love had to overcome numerous obstacles. Maroh deftly takes readers back in time, so they can watch the relationship evolve.  Through narration and illustrations, Maroh exposes Clementine’s internalized homophobia, the heterosexism of her parents and peers as well as Emma’s conflict between her burgeoning feelings for Clementine and her long-term girlfriend, Sabine.

As Maroh renders their romance in beautiful graphics, she thoughtfully weaves the color blue throughout the text. For example, Emma’s hair is blue, and Clementine’s journal is blue. In this way, Maroh infuses the title’s theme all the way through.

She also expertly draws the women, accurately depicting the dress and mannerisms of a subsection of the lesbian population: short hair, tank tops, caps, jeans, and sneakers; a woman walking with one hand in her pocket and a jaunty slouch, leaning provocatively against a fence, and sitting comfortably on a bench knees spread and elbows back. It is easy to see how Maroh’s attention to detail helped to create such a sensation, first as a graphic novel then as a film.

In Summation

In referring to the film, Steven Spielberg called it “a story of deep love and deep heartbreak.” I could think of no better way to describe the novel. It will rouse your passions and break your heart.

Robin Petrovic

For the past twelve years, Robin Petrovic has been teaching English Composition, Literature, and Gender & Women Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she infuses Queer Theory into all of her courses. In 2011, Petrovic co-founded Gay4Good: Chicago, an inclusive LGBT volunteer organization that donates its time to social welfare and environmental service projects. She is a former literature blogger for IntraSpectrum Counseling.

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