Betty Blue: Béatrice Dalle = perfection.
When I was a Keele University student at the start of the ’90s, like many late teenagers becoming young adults, I had the poster up on my wall, I saw the original version of this film at the Keele Film Society. Their usual theatre was out of commission as it was being refurbished, so one of the lecture halls was used. The projector setup was far from ideal, so that term saw many a 4:3 print being shown. This was one of them.
Béatrice Dalle had soft, supple skin, accompanied by perfect breasts. All of this was shown off in full glory right at the start of the film when she is seen having enthusiastic sex with Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a handyman who works on maintaining a large number of beach bungalows. They’d only known each other for a week by this point, too. If she had her faults, it’d be that she doesn’t shave her armpits. Okay, so that goes for a lot of French women.
Does Zorg stay in his humdrum job or does he let Betty, this wild and passionate young woman, dictate his next move? Stupid question. Like most men, he follows his dick, and goes wherever she leads him, but to what cost?
Betty Blue propelled Dalle to international fame in what was her feature-length debut, which you wouldn’t have guessed from her assured and confident demeanour and performance, but it’s strange that she never capitalised on this, like so many French actresses have since, and to go on to make more mainstream films. Everything was hers for the taking. Instead, the only other film she made that anyone had heard of was Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, in 1991, comprising of five stories told in five taxis over one night. Dalle played “Blind woman”. It’s an intriguing watch, but after that, she was gone from UK screens.
As for the original title, 37.2 le matin, this refers to 37.2oC in the morning, around 96oF in the shade. Whether this is referring to the unbearable heat in which Zorg has to paint the shacks, or Betty’s unstable temperament, is anyone’s guess. Both versions are available on this Blu-ray package and the Director’s Cut allows an extra hour in this anti-romance for Betty’s descent into insanity to take full hold, which is first seen when she kicks off at Zorg’s landlord and chucks pink paint all over his flash sports car, not to mention her subsequent attempts at ‘housekeeping’.
Betty Blue is such an engaging movie and the longer it goes on, the more I enjoy it. This is definitely a must-buy.
Fans of this film will also be pleased to know that Second Sight have pulled out all the stops with the print. Clearly remastered, it’s so crisp and colourful and free of any defects, it looks like it’s been made this year.
The film is presented in the original 1.66:1 widescreen ratio, slightly pillarboxed as it should be (Artificial Eye – please note that this is how your releases such as Amateur and Simple Men should look, NOT cropped to 16:9), and in 1080p high defintion, and it’s such a pleasure to watch. If only all prints were like this. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound is in the original mono, and it’s good that they haven’t messed with that and tried to turn it into a DTS 5.1 special effects-laden soundtrack… although that might get a good workout when Betty starts screaming and going mental, mental, chicken oriental…
With both versions of the film on disc 1, the extras are on disc 2. Also, it’s odd for note that for a special edition, the second disc is a bog-standard DVD rather than a Blu-ray.
Anyway, the extras are:
- Blue Notes and Bungalows: The Making of Betty Blue (61:37): Clocking in at just over an hour, director Jean-Jacques Beineix describes the relationship between the two leads as like Romeo & Juliet – they long to be together but the nature of their relationship makes it impossible.
There’s also chat from actors Béatrice Dalle and Jean-Hughes Anglade, the latter of whom looked so young and vibrant in this film, whilst looking like 100 years have passed in the more recent Braquo. In reality, it’s only 25 years at most, but he clearly looks cool as fuck in both cases. By comparison, time really hasn’t been at all kind to Dalle. Best to remember her as she was back then, I’m sorry to say.
In addition, there’s producer Claudie Ossard, composer Gabriel Yared and cinematographer Jean-Francois Robin.
Most of the dialogue is in French with yellow English subtitles burnt into the print, while chaptering is a non-starter. There’s one. Yes, one chapter for an entire hour. Come on, Second Sight. If you made the effort to chapter the film properly, you can spare a few here. You’re not paying by the chapter, you know(!)
- Béatrice Dalle Screen Test (4:13): Presented in 4:3 and with background sound that’s like a fly having got caught in a speaker, the quality is far from great, but… that’s not a problem when the important thing is that this is the kind of supplemental that you’ll never see anywhere else.
As you put the disc in, the menu appears with clips from the film and a piece of the incidental music. There are subtitles in English, and it’s good to see that these are made optional so that French viewers aren’t forced to sit through their appearance.
And a big thumbs up goes to Second Sight for the chaptering: 22 chapters for the 2-horr version and 32 chapters for the full director’s cut. THIS is the way to do chaptering on a Special Edition!
So many companies are producing special editions, yet leaving the chaptering a less-than-special 12, even when the film goes on for some considerable time.
Running time: 120 minutes (theatrical) / 185 minutes (director’s cut)
Released: November 25th 2013
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Producers: Jean-Jacques Beineix and Claudie Ossard
Screenplay: Jean-Jacques Beineix (based on the novel by Philippe Djian)
Music: Gabriel Yared
Zorg: Jean-Hugues Anglade
Betty: Béatrice Dalle
Eddy: Gérard Darmon
Lisa: Consuelo De Haviland
Annie: Clémentine Célarié
Bob: Jacques Mathou
Richard le jeune policier: Vincent Lindon
Le commissaire (complete version): Jean-Pierre Bisson
Le dealer / Dope dealer (complete version): Dominique Pinon
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.