Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beineix's BETTY BLUE is back -- in Director's Cut three-hour-plus version


If you remember fondly the gorgeous, sexy nut-job BETTY BLUE, brought to scary/sweet and hugely voluptuous life by actress Béatrice Dalle (below, right) in her first film role, you'll line up to see even more of her and her lover Zorg (played by the equally sexy Jean-Hugues Anglade, below, left) and their friends and adventures in the land of l'amour fou.
The original film, which made its debut back in 1986, lasted only two hours. The newly restored-for-theatrical-release Director's Cut lasts three. Yikes! Does that extra hour help? Is the total time spent worthwhile? Could this one of the great love stories of cinema, as some have claimed? Yes, yes, and probably not. But it's certainly up there with the great crazy love stories of all time.

As did many other foreign film buffs, my ex-wife and I rushed off to see Betty when she first hit the screen -- and two hours later wondered why. Yes, there was a lot of great sex and cinematography, nudity and drama. Oh, the drama! So much of it there was, in huge plops and chunks, that it took "camp" a step farther into cramp, but because it was chockablock with nothing but high points (or low points lows, depending on your view of what was happening), the movie seemed a non-stop climax, racing from one damn thing to the next. "Why would anyone stay with that woman," asked my ex, post-viewing. "She was a nut case." This three-hour version answers the question.

The Director's Cut gives us the bigger picture: the quiet moments, more of the couple's friends Lisa and Eddie (wonderfully played by Consuelo De Haviland and Gérard Darmon), and especially -- at last -- a sense of what holds this pair together. It can't all have been the sex and craziness, and sure enough it wasn't. Now, there's a real sense of the neediness on the part of both characters (for Prozac, among other things, which I believe had not yet come to market), as well as more of the joy and good times usually inherent in an even partially positive relationship. Consequently, what we're left with is a fuller story -- a crazy love story still, but one that has much more resonance.

Resonance, however, is not the same thing as reality, and it's here that Betty Blue falls apart. Not fatally -- because it never fails to deliver a good time and lots of pretty pictures. What's missing is any -- and I mean one single moment -- of believability so far as concerns the larger world that these two weirdos inhabit. Zorg knocks his boss about, even dumping him off the balcony: No problem. A heist occurs (in drag, yet!) but, hey, no one pays the price. Assault, robbery, even murder: forget it. I realize that lovers often imagine that the world revolves around them, but the film director should not make this same mistake. The result approaches the ridiculous, but it's also consistently gorgeous, as are the two leads.

Betty Blue was Ms Dalle's first film (she can be seen more recently in the French horror/shocker Inside), and she is simply stunning: a gap-toothed girl who's ample body puts to shame the anorexic look of too many of today's would-be beauty queens. She exudes womanliness, sex and life to a degree that is nearly criminal, and she's matched body part for body part by her co-star. Wiry but muscular with a near-perfect form that's more than happy to go full-frontal at a moment's notice, Anglade is one of those performers dedicated to being "real" above all else. The result is that the pair of lovers ride roughshod over everyone and everything around them, including the cop below (played by a very young Vincent Lindon), the movie and its silly plot.

Adapter (from the novel by Philippe Djian) and director Jean-Jacques Beineix made his initial international splash with Diva but then bombed badly with The Moon in the Gutter. Betty Blue put him back, if not on top, at least out of embarrassment range. This three-hour cut should keep him there -- so long as the combination of movies and l'amour fou continues to matter. Which would mean, approximately, forever.

Betty Blue opened Friday, June 12, for at least a week-long run at NYC's indispensible-for-art-films Cinema Village. The NYC date will be followed by theatrical runs in other major markets including Los Angeles (July 3 at the Nuart), Minneapolis (July 24 at Landmark), Seattle (August 7 at Landmark’s Varsity), Denver (August 21 at the Starz FilmCenter) and Boston (September 11 at Landmark’s Kendall Square).

4 comments:

Atul said...

betty blue movie is a romantic drama about a vivacious young woman who becomes obsessively involved with a would-be writer. Nice movie I wanted to
download betty blue
movie but was unable due to lack of time, I had watched only trailers

James van Maanen, said...

Hmmm... What with the download link included, this is probably more of a marketing ploy than a comment. But because BETTY BLUE is such an interesting film and definitely worth a watch, I'll post the comment. Also, this particular download program seems legal enough, right...?

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your advice guys, it helped me a lot, I went to www.saveabreakup.com and followed their step by step instructions and it worked perfectly, now me and my girlfriend are back together.

James van Maanen, said...

Yet another Anonymous -- who probably just wants to hawk another website. Well, I'll play along, as the site has such a clever name. Clearly, Anon has NOT not seen the movie in question here, however, as all the goings-on involved don't save a breakup. All of which makes me wonder: Don't people watch movies for fun, relaxation or edification any longer? Is EVERYTHING now about hawking your own wares?