Sunday, January 24, 2010

Betty Blue

37°2 le matin; Drama, France, 1986; D: Jean-Jacques Beineix, S: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Béatrice Dalle, Gérard Darmon, Consuelo De Haviland

Zorg has a tough life: he lives in an isolated settlement on the beach and barely survives as an auto mechanic and handyman, but has something that makes him happy. It's a love relationship with the temperament Betty. One day she discovers that he is writing a story for a novel and sets his home on fire to force him to move to town and find a publisher. The couple finds an apartment in the owner of a piano store. But Zorg has trouble finding a job while Betty acts weirder every day. When she pokes her eye out, the doctors diagnose her with schizophrenia. Devastated, Zorg decides that he can't look her in that pitiful state. He kills Betty and becomes crazy himself.

Nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe as best foreign language film, "Betty Blue" is an extremely bitter existential drama for those who can stomach those kind of films, and it became more famous in the European than American circles. The average grade that was given to the film by the American critics on was 6.4/10, which is good, but modest considering its high reputation. The simple story about the tough times of a couple that speaks about love, self-deceit, obsession, death and many other things really somehow reminds of a soap opera, but it is fascinating and demanding, which is something that can't be said for those cheap films, whereas it also contains brave-bitter monologues ("With 30, you start realizing what life is really like" or "In life, you always lose what you want"). Already from the first scene in which the couple has sex in bed does the director Beineix hint that he doesn't intend to polish the depressive story about loser Zorg who only has happiness in love with the schizophrenic Betty, whereas even "Million Dollar Baby" could have learned a lesson or two from the similar tragic ending that refuses to turn manipulative or tedious.


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