Finding ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’
Ashley Jo Will
Nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and a recipient of many awards around the world such as at the Cannes Film Festival, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a love story between two women. The French film “Blue is the Warmest Color” is based on the French graphic novel with the same name, written and illustrated by Julie Maroh. The film is rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content as it doesn’t shy away from anything the protagonist feels and experiences. The movie was released on video recently on Feb. 25, 2014 and in addition to a love story, the film tells how one young woman finds her identity as she struggles with school and adulthood.
Adele is in high school and is focusing on literature because she loves reading so much. A boy named Thomas wants to go out with Adele. All of Adele’s friends see how much Thomas looks at Adele and they tell her that she should go out with him because he is good looking and a senior. On the way to meet Thomas one afternoon, Adele crosses paths with a girl with blue hair. They both look at each other for a few seconds as they are going their separate ways. Adele conveys a wave of emotion on her face during this fateful encounter. Adele has lunch and goes to a movie with Thomas but she cannot stop thinking about the mysterious girl with blue hair. That night Adele imagines the blue-haired girl kissing and touching her rather than any thoughts about Thomas. Adele feels as if she should like Thomas because he is a nice guy but she is unable to reciprocate his feelings.
Thomas tells Adele, “I feel you’re avoiding me.” In this scene in both the book and the movie, Adele kisses Thomas because she thinks girls are supposed to kiss boys and not other girls. Adele tries her best to have a relationship with this guy who is in love with her. Yet Adele does not gain any feelings similar to when she thinks of the mysterious girl who crossed her path. Adele goes to a gay bar with her best friend named Valentin. At the bar, Adele feels a bit out of place and wanders to a nearby bar filled with mostly lesbians. Adele spots the girl of her dreams with the blue hair. The blue-haired girl sits next to Adele and she learns that the girl of her dreams is named Emma and is in her fourth year studying fine arts in college. Adele wishes she could talk longer and she tells Emma where she goes to school.
To Adele’s surprise, Emma is waiting for her after school the next day. Adele rushes to Emma without explaining anything to her friends. The two young women walk to a park where Emma sketches a portrait of Adele. Emma and Adele continue to see each other. They talk about a variety of subjects and Adele appears happier than she has ever seemed. In the book, Emma says, “We do not choose the one we fall in love with and our perception of happiness is our own and is determined by what we experience.” Their meetings result in Adele losing many friends. Assumptions are made about Adele and not everybody is accepting of Adele falling in love with a girl rather than a boy. Adele tells her friends that she is not a lesbian although it is obvious she is in love with a girl. The deviation from normality scares Adele but she cannot help how she feels toward Emma. When Adele kisses Emma while lying on the grass in a park, a huge smile forms on her face.
The two women soon form a serious relationship where all aspects of their bodies are explored. The graphic imagery may be too much for some viewers as no intimate moment with Emma is spared from view. Like the book, the film conveys that Adele reaches the pinnacle of happiness when she is close to Emma. Adele has lost her friends but she now has Emma which is all that matters. Emma’s parents are accepting of who Emma falls in love with and know the truth about Adele and Emma. Contrarily, Adele knows her parents wouldn’t approve and she tells them that Emma is helping with philosophy homework. In the book, the parents are the same way except for in the graphic novel, Adele’s parents are shown discovering the truth about her and Emma while in the film it is unknown if they find out.
Much time passes and Adele and Emma are still together. Adele is teaching young children and Emma has created a variety of art pieces inspired by Adele. This should be the perfect life but Adele feels frustrated and full of anxiety. Adele cooks and cleans while Emma talks about art with her colleagues. Amid the crowd, Adele feels alone. Nobody at Adele’s workplace knows that she has a girlfriend and she makes excuses why she can’t go out with her co-workers. When another teacher named Antoine pays special attention to Adele, she makes a choice that is not easily forgiven.
One main difference from the book and movie is that in the graphic novel, the protagonist’s name is Clementine while it is Adele in the film. Some scenes are different but the emotional core of each medium is the same. Time frames are expressed in the book but they are not in the film. Instead there are no transitions between scenes which is jarring without fading in or fading out to the next time period. The audience must find clues or assume how much time has passed. This is annoying and I wished for better transitions rather than just going from one scene to the next.
Like the colorful graphic novel available to be checked out at White Mountain Library of the Sweetwater County Library System, the film “Blue is the Warmest Color” conveys a lot of emotion with little words. Both main actresses express their emotions very well on their faces. Just watching the characters’ faces and eyes tell a lot about how Emma and Adele are feeling during their times of love, self-discovery, loss, and heartbreak. The color blue is very important to the film because it is seen whenever something important is visible such as Emma’s blue hair, Adele’s dress in the last scene, the ocean, Emma’s pillows, the light in the gay bar, and much more. When you watch this film, keep an eye on all of the blue objects and think about why they are blue. Blue is truly the warmest color when someone refers to which color of flame is the hottest. Fire brings a sense of solace and warmth; this is what Emma brings to Adele’s life. The blue-haired Emma also stokes a passion within Adele like nothing else making her the hottest flame in Adele’s life. Blue refers to a variety of emotions. In addition to being the hottest flame, blue is commonly associated with sadness and melancholy. This aspect of this color makes sense later on in the film when Adele wears a blue dress. Blue is also associated with water which gives life. On Earth, there is no life without water and there is no life without Emma for Adele. Like the relationship in the film, the viewers may know someone who has affected them as strongly as Emma affects Adele’s life. Growing up is always difficult and is even harder when someone feels out of place in terms of their sexuality as Adele discovers when she finds out blue is the warmest color. Find “Blue is the Warmest Color” for yourself when you become immersed in this love story filled with intense passion.