BBFC Classification: 18
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Starring: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Béatrice Dalle, Gérard Darmon, Consuelo De Haviland, Clémentine Célarié, Vincent Lindon
In Betty Blue Béatrice Dalle (À l’intérieur) stars as the titular Betty, a beautiful young woman who is beginning a passionate relationship with a handyman-cum-writer called Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade – Nikita). However, Betty’s behaviour is wild and unpredictable, and after she becomes obsessed with a manuscript Zorg is working on she burns down the beach hut where Zorg lives and works, forcing the couple to move to the city and live with Betty’s friend. But once there Betty’s odd behaviour escalates, leading to a tragic and emotional climax.
What is essentially a tale of accepting somebody’s faults no matter what, what separates Betty Blue from the multitude of romantic dramas that flood the market is the fact that it is about regular people with regular lives who just want to be together. Add that to the fact that it is very sexually explicit and you have what is ostensibly a slice-of-life love story about real people presented in a lifelike way; a setup which probably wouldn’t get the go-ahead if it was being pitched to a mainstream movie studio in Hollywood today.
Although, all the normalcy in the world couldn’t be carried off to any great degree if it wasn’t for the brilliant performances from the two leads. For a debut performance Béatrice Dalle is nothing short of mesmerising, her physical beauty matched by her ability to demand sympathy from the audience, even when she is in the midst of losing control. Even when she isn’t doing or saying anything, the fact that Dalle is the focal point says more about her talents than any script or line delivery ever could. Jean-Hugues Anglade also delivers a career-best performance, his take on the put-upon man who would do anything for the woman he loves just to see her happy is just as engaging and demanding as his co-star’s performance and together they make one of cinema’s most exciting screen couples.
Also worthy of note is the beautiful photography in the film, capturing the many different sides of everyday French life from the run-down beach huts that need a bit of attention through to city life when Betty and Zorg go to visit her friend and onto the rural village life that the couple settle in to. But the film is ultimately about the characters and the troubles they face in everyday life, and the three-hour running time of the Director’s Cut (the disc contains both the Theatrical and Director’s Cuts) never feels like a slog to get through. Trying to sell a film on the basis that it is a simple story of two people who love each other living their lives together isn’t an easy thing to do but Betty Blue really is a film you need to see if you’ve ever contemplated the complex nature of relationships and why some just work. Highly recommended.
Special Features: Blue Notes and Bungalows – The Making of Betty Blue documentary, Béatrice Dalle Screen Tests.
UK Release Date: 25th November 2013