Don’t Forget Beineix: Betty Blue at Cinema Village


Though he hasn’t made a film since 2001, New York art houses are ensuring we don’t forget “cinéma du look” architect Jean-Jacques Beineix: Film Forum revived his 1981 debut, Diva, in 2007, and now Cinema Village presents the 185-minute version of Beineix’s third film, 1986’s Betty Blue. A tribute to amour fou and the tush of Béatrice Dalle, Betty Blue infamously begins in medias baiser at the beach shack belonging to Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), whose first line of narration—”I had known Betty for a week. We screwed every night. The forecast was for storms”—immediately establishes the film’s frequently awkward mix of the carnal and the volatile. Betty’s episodic crackups, which start with arson, proceed to assault by fork and comb, and culminate in operatic self-mutilation, feel not so much explosive as exhausting. But curvy, ripe Dalle, only 21 at the time and in her first screen role, completely commits to the part, and was dubbed “the new Bardot.” Yet unlike BB, who stopped making movies when she was 39 (taking up animal rights and immigrant bashing), Dalle, now 44, continues as one of France’s most fearless actresses; in the years since Beineix’s dormancy began, she’s played a cannibal, the Queen of the Northern Hemisphere, and a fetus snatcher.