MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGER WEEKEND*** Betty Blue (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s not the kind of movie that relies on shocking the audience, but a little shock would definitely add to the experience.”

 The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

 Betty 1
“I’m warming my ass.

Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Foreign Language film…  There are worse ways to choose a movie to watch when you don’t know anything else about it.  It also helps when you randomly stumble across it streaming and are trying to watch more Foreign Language movies.  I might not have the most high tech system for choosing movies here at Bored and Dangerous, but dammit, it works.  Because it leads to movies like Betty Blue.

Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) is a handy man for a small beach resort.  He gets a place to live and a few dollars for maintaining its dozens of run down shacks.  A week before the story begins, he met Betty (Beatrice Dalle) and a steamy affair ensued.  After a fight with her boss leads to Betty losing her job, Zorg takes her in.  But his boss does not approve, and soon he is using Betty’s residence as a way to exploit Zorg, making him do more and more work for no extra pay.

Betty finds a hand written manuscript of Zorg’s and after reading it, decides that he is a literary genius.  After an unpleasantness at the resort, Zorg and Betty move to Paris where they live and work in the small hotel of Betty’s old friend, Lisa (Consuelo de Haviland).  When Lisa meets a new boyfriend (Gerard Darmon), the four form a tightknit group.  Betty types out Zorg’s book and sends it out to publishing houses.

I watched a three hour director’s cut of Betty Blue, which is about an hour longer than the theatrical version that got all that praise back on release in the mid 80s.  And while I liked this version well enough, I have a feeling that I would like the truncated cut a whole lot more.  Betty’s unstable bona fides are established pretty early on, then reiterated over, and over, and over, and over again.  To the point that Zorg’s sexual attraction as a reason to put up with her less stable tendencies loses all believability long before the story thinks it does.
Betty 2
I also think I would have liked it whole lot more had I seen it back in the day.  Sure, my parents might have been in trouble for letting a six year old see a movie this blue, but I have to imagine that a lot of its success at the time came down to its pushing of the limits.  Maybe its tame by French standards, but it’s pretty explicit even by 2016 Hollywood standards and must have been extreme in 1986.  Not that it’s not the kind of movie that relies on shocking the audience, but a little shock would definitely add to the experience, putting the audience on edge.  Just like Betty’s actions always make sure Zorg is never on stable footing.

Betty Blue
Directed By – Jean-Jacques Beineix
Written By – Jean-Jacques Beineix

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Betty Blue?
Roger Ebert
The New York Times
Ancient Slumber

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