Do you see where I’m going with this?
Blue Is the Warmest Color, published originally in 2010 by Julie Maroh, is a love story, a tragedy, and a work of art rolled into one. It was released two months early in August to cater to English-speaking audiences, and I bought the translation the day it came out, devouring it within a few hours. Three weeks and a second read-through later, I’m still reeling.
Blue chronicles the relationship between Clémentine and Emma, two young women living in France at the turn of the new millennium. Clémentine, a naïve high schooler, is boy-crazy and unknowing. A chance encounter with a blue-haired college student named Emma leaves Clémentine questioning her sexuality and all that she has ever known. The result is a story more poignant than any Oscar-winning drama in recent years.
This might sound ridiculous—but there is a reason why the film adaptation won at Cannes this year, and it all started with the graphic novel. Maybe it’s the way Maroh carries Clémentine’s story from beginning to end, or how her art—schemed in black and white, with blue only appearing to accent Emma’s hair and presence— makes Blue Is the Warmest Color more than your typical coming-of-age story. However, that isn’t to say Blue exists without cliché. To be frank, Clémentine’s sexual awakening is akin to almost every other story I’ve read that deals with same-sex relationships. What saves it is the way Maroh allows the story to be explicit and ugly, in every realistic way possible, be it through dialogue, Clémentine’s diary, and even the art itself.
At the very least, Blue Is the Warmest Color is something worth checking out because it’s something you will hear about. The film adaptation has received some serious buzz and even some controversy; staying true to the graphic novel, the movie is explicit and heavy on the sexual content. Depending on who you are, this may or may not be a good thing. However, I’m a firm believer in not skimping out on reality, and Blue in all its rawness is exactly that: honest, driven, and absolutely beautiful. You will fall for its characters, its art, and you will stick with its story to the very end—whether you like it or not.
Delilah Kaufman is a Writing for Film and Television major at Emerson College. Hailing from New York City, she is a cat enthusiast, addicted to Mad Men, and can fit her whole fist in her mouth. You can find Delilah on Twitter.