Sunday, August 09, 2009

Betty Blue: The Director's Cut

Today I saw Betty Blue: The Director's Cut, starring BĂ©atrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade. [note: this film has one more hour of footage than its original theatrical release contained in 1986.]

185 minutes is a long time to spend with anyone—especially fictional characters who are as unlikeable as they are abundant. Unfortunately, that was the case today when I sat through this soft-core porn, which masquerades as pretentious art.

Zorg (Anglade) is a novelist who is making a living as a caretaker at a desolate beach resort. We assume his life is relatively peaceful before he meets Betty (but since the first scene is him making love to her, I suppose we'll never know), a passionate, sexy woman who doesn't have much of a purpose except "loving" him.

In bed, their relationship is as strong as can be. They are inhibition-free during their sexual escapades and seem to be genuinely fond of each other's bodies. So fond that for over half the movie one or both of them are naked.

Anyway, Zorg is mezmerized by Betty's vibrant (though imperfect) smile and her undying attention to him, so he risks his caretaking job by allowing her to live with him against the owner's wishes. In return, she helps him paint bungalows and all seems to work out well until...said boss shows up and she gets so angry she throws all of Zorg's belongings out the window. Literally.

Normal men would take pause at this development and expel the crazy bitch from their life, but not Zorg. He passively accepts her rage and even allows her to begin typing up a novel he's scripted by hand in several volumes of journals. Then they set the place on fire.

Next up is a new life in a (presumably) new town, where they become great friends with their landlady and her eventual partner. They trade work for rent, have amazing sex, and all is well until... Betty is working as a server at their restaurant and stabs a lippy patron with a fork.

Think the red flags are waving high enough for Zorg to notice? Not so much. He must really like having sex. With her. Because not only does he keep her around (staying faithful to her as well), but he starts over with her again in a new locale managing a piano store. They sell a piano on their first day, have amazing sex, and well, you get the idea.

With each progressive act of crazy that Betty commits, you wonder more what the hell is wrong with this man. Everyone knows someone who is in or has been in an abusive relationship, but this is ridiculous. The woman is beyond disturbed ("I hear voices") and her antics repeatedly threaten both of their lives.

By the time the final act played out (in which Betty does something so horrific the audience I was sitting with audibly gasped), I was planning my dinner menu, thinking about the music I'd program for my evening workout and wondering why I shelled out money for the ticket to see this in the first place.

Sure, there are some cool sex scenes, but without characters that one can truly invest in or care about, the 'love story' progression only feels predictable and weak.


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