In my two previous posts, I reviewed the film and graphic novel versions of Blue is the Warmest Color. Now is the time to talk about what I have seen and read. There will be spoilers, so turn back now if you don’t want to know, for this cannot be unread.
People love their labels. Some dismiss Blue is the Warmest Color as “that French lesbian movie;” or they use that as a selling point to their friends, as if it’s something that’s found on Cinemax, and this was still the 1980s. First and foremost, Blue is the Warmest Color is a love story that happens to be about two women.
And no, it’s not “the female version of Brokeback Mountain” either. But that was was a good movie as well. It’s interesting to think that two of the best love stories of the past decade or so have been about same sex couples. I have yet to watch Carol, so I cannot comment on that film.
Some governments around the world have started to officially recognize same sex partnerships in the past few years (finally). It’s not as if homosexuality is a recent invention like smart phones, flying cars, or time travel (I have no idea when anyone will read this). At the time Julie Maroh started working on the graphic novel, homophobia was even more of an issue that it is today. But thanks to social media, the few are louder than ever before.
In the graphic novel, Clementine (Adele in the film) has to deal with the homophobia of her friends. This scene is also in the movie. It’s sad, and it angers (but not surprises) me that some people would throw away a perfectly good friend so casually. To make matters worse, Clem’s parents kick her out of the house when they discover she is in a relationship with Emma. This isn’t depicted in the film version.
The movie deals more with class deliniation than the graphic novel; but it’s on the page as well. Emma (Lea Seydoux) comes from a “bourgois,” upper middle class family. Her mom and stepdad are totally cool with who she is, and has no problem with Emma’s relationship with Adele (Adele Exarchopolis).
Adele’s lower middle class (working class?) parents are far less tolerant. When Adele invites Emma over to her house, she tells her mom and dad that the girl with the blue hair is a “study buddy” (my term). Adele’s parents aren’t hostile, yet they aren’t the most gracious hosts, either. To be fair, in an earlier scene, meal time is seen spent in mostly silence, while the television is on in the background.
When Adele visits Emma’s family, they are warm and welcoming. Emma’s stepfather is a bit of a foodie, and has prepared what seems like a feast fit for royalty. Adele’s family meals usually consist of spaghetti bolognese, or ill-prepared chicken served with red wine. James Bond would not approve.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie, that’s not in the novel, is the dinner party for Emma and her friends. Adele seems okay with cooking and serving, but she seems a bit lost for conversation amongst Emma’s arty-farty crowd. It’s a bit like me when I go to the art store with my friend, but I don’t mind, since I don’t fit in anywhere.
During the party, Emma tells her friends that in addition to being a teacher, Adele is also a writer. Did she do this to bring Adele into the conversation, so she wouldn’t feel left out? Was it a way to show her friends that Adele was more than “just a teacher”? Did she feel a need to justify her relationship with Adele to her pals? Or was is a passive-agressive maneuver to get Adele to write and publish something? I am undecided.
I am also a bit confused as to why Adele/Clementine would cheat on Emma–especially with a man. In high school, she tried sex with a guy, and it didn’t seem to work for her. Was it because he was the wrong dude, or was it because she had Emma on the brain?
At one point, Emma said that Adele/Clem would eventually dump her and go back to men. Did she think that Adele/Clem was straight and “going through a phase”? Was it Emma’s insecurities talking? Or was it something else?
Emma is out and proud, while Adele/Clem is not; this is a sore point in their relationship. Adele/Clem’s fellow teachers have no idea she is in a same sex relationship. It’s never stated, but she may feel it’s for the best, because she is a teacher, and you know how overreactive some parents are.
Both versions of Blue is the Warmest Color depict tragic love stories, but which is more heartbreaking? The graphic novel ends with Clementine dying while thinking there is a chance of a reunion with Emma; while the last shot of the film is Adele walking away, knowing it’s over.