Blue is the Warmest Color - Julie Maroh

In this tender, bittersweet, full-colour graphic novel, a young woman named Clémentine discovers herself and the elusive magic of love when she meets a confident blue-haired girl named Emma: a lesbian love story for the ages that bristles with the energy of youth and rebellion and the eternal light of desire.
First published in French by Belgium's Glénat, the book has won several awards, including the Audience Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe's largest.
Julie Maroh is an author and illustrator originally from northern France.


I have to say that this has become one of my favourite graphic novels of all time. The story whole-heartedly encapsulates attraction, first love and identity. The book is a diary of Clémentine's life from the early years of her adolescence all through her life and it is an amazing coming of age story. The illustrations serve the story in such a way that you see Clémentine's feelings bubbling up on the page. The use of colour as well as the emphasis put on perspective makes you see things through Clémentine's eyes, allowing you to watch her life unravel (and also ravel - which really should be a word), from her point of view.

Everything seems pretty good for Clémentine at first but when she meets Emma, her world turns upside down. She has to deal with her feelings and the fact that they don't seem to have any sort of relation to what her brain tells her she should feel. Clémentine has never been attracted to a girl before and she has some issues when dealing with it at first. I do think this is one of the best "coming out" type of stories (though I do dislike the term) because it shows you in words and images the effect such a realisation has on a person. It's as if you've lived all your life with an image of you, of life, of things, of everything and all of a sudden your life and this image, this certainty you've had all your life don't match up. And you find yourself having to choose between your heart and your mind and it is sometimes the hardest thing you will have to go through because either way you go, you could feel you are betraying yourself. 

I don't really want to say more about the book because I read it without knowing much and I cried big fat ugly tears from the first pages and I felt I was right there with Clémentine while she was going through these moments. 

I've read it in French but the English version is out in September this year from Arsenal Pulp Press and the film based on the opening chapters of the book has found a UK distributor (Curzon) so it should be in UK indie cinemas soon. The film has been praised by the critics and won the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes but has received quite a lot of criticism over the shooting conditions and the fact that the director didn't thank the author, Julie Maroh, in his acceptance speech. Julie Maroh has written a blog post about the film and has pointed out the lack of realism of the love scenes as well as her issues with the film in general, so do give the graphic novel a chance whether you like the film or not.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, this is coming to England :) I read about the film a few weeks ago and decided to give it a go if it did. I like the look of the art style here. Thanks for the review. And it's great to see you back!