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Betty Blue: Unrated Director's Cut

When Betty Blue ("372 le Matin") was released in 1986, it caused quite a stir. The French production featured full frontal nudity from leads Jean-Hughes Anglade and Beatrice Dalle, and (like numerous films that deal explicitly with sex) it made many audience members question whether the scenes featuring intercourse were simulated or not. But the cult around Betty Blue has died in the interim; where the picture used to be a mainstay poster for the hip college set, its reputation hasn't held up over the years. Perhaps with the proliferation of pornography it isn't as often used as a test for a partner's predilections as it once was,. Or perhaps because the Jean-Jacques Beineix film didn't have the critical support of something like Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, it's not bandied about as a classic. Or perhaps it's because the movie's a touch silly in retrospect. That is to say, the film is concerned with the age-old conundrum of "How do you deal with a partner who is dynamite in the sack, hot as all get out, and perfect in every way — except for the fact that said person is bat-shit crazy." Betty's (Dalle) the crazy one; she and Zorg (Anglade) begin the film with a lengthy session of morning coitus, and it's revealed that their relationship so far has been defined by the passionate sex they've been having for a week. She's a free spirit and moves in with Zorg shortly thereafter, but as he's the handyman at a beachfront, their passion for each other makes him late to work, to which his boss forces them to paint all of his units. The boss's headstrong behavior towards their free labors causes Betty to throw paint on his car, and she gets revenge on Zorg by throwing out all of his stuff — but during her tantrum she finds his unpublished manuscript, which she proclaims brilliant. Betty then burns down their place, and the two go into Paris to live with her friend Lisa (Consuelo De Haviland) as she types up his writings and sends them off to publishers. The two are passionately in love, but every once in a while Betty gets annoyed with someone and attacks them. And though things seemed to heading towards some normalcy when Betty finds out she's pregnant, the news then comes that she wasn't, which sends her into a deep depression. For the first two hours of the director's cut, Betty Blue is charming, and the relationships are believable — Betty is presented as someone who doesn't suffer fools gladly, giving her affliction some credibility. But as the film moves into its final act, it just gets all the more ridiculous, leading to Zorg robbing a bank in drag. Adapting Philippe Djian's book, Beineix (best know for 1981's Diva) does a great job of revealing the character's intimacy, something that is dreadfully hard in cinema in general, and one believes in their carnally driven relationship. But whatever feels true about their feelings goes totally askew by the close. Columbia TriStar presents Betty Blue in a director's cut, adding an additional 65 minutes of new material, with a good anamorphic transfer (1.66:1). The film is available in both a dubbed English and the original French (with optional English subtitles) with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Bonus trailers, keep-case.
—DSH



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