95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2005
Betty Blue is touted as an "erotic drama" by the distributor, a tag which sells the film grossly short. It certainly has frank depictions of sexuality and much nudity -- after all, this is a film that opens on a real-time extended sequence shot of two people having sex -- but to call this erotica is to miss the complete picture.
Betty Blue is an organic look at a troubled relationship in all its glory and ugliness, tenderness and violence, joys and sorrows, made possible by the director's sympathetic and unembarrassed eye, and the sheer dedication of lead actors Jean-Hugues Anglade and Beatrice Dalle. Seldom has a cinematic couple been better paired, and seldom with so much chemistry. Dalle conveys a world of psychological complexity in her face, her eyes seeming to shift with her inner beats. Dalle received the bulk of the attention for this, her breakthrough role, so it might be easy to overlook Jean-Hugues Anglade, a fantastic actor who's every bit as good as Gerard Depardieu, perhaps even half a notch above Jean Reno. In reality, he is the anchor for the film's wrenching emotional journey. When Zorg plays the piano theme for Betty, easily the loveliest scene in the film, Anglade's eyes seem to dance, and the actors say more with their looks during their moments together than all the sex scenes in the world. Thanks to the deft direction, all those nude scenes don't seem like titillation -- merely an illuminating fly-on-the-wall view into the relationship. This couple certainly seems like the type who would be comfortable being naked around each other, and those scenes create a sense of genuine intimacy, rather than intent to arouse.
If there's one thing this film does well, it is the mixture of comedic and tragic scenes which makes it seem such a complete picture. Betty is not always wild and uncontrolled; Zorg is not always patient and loving. They are two flawed characters, made all the more likeable because of their flaws, and their interactions make us laugh, smile in understanding, frown, and cry.
This extended edition makes the film far better. It's been about 10 years since I last saw it so I can't make very specific comparisons. But the restored scenes are substantial, not cosmetic addition of shots, but an explosion of the story, and while I can't name too many specifics, as a whole this version just feels more right, more natural, and more emotional.
Look beyond the film's "erotic" reputation and find a character study, and a portrayal of a relationship, which is as moving as any I've seen.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2005
'Betty Blue', the movie that, as one reviewer put it,' sent shock waves rippling through arthouse cinemas everywhere' and introduced unforgettable 'Beatrice Dalle', a sort of modern day (though far wilder) 'Bardot', with an even more generous mouth. Who else but the French could pull off a film like this with such depth and style. An exploration of L'amour in all its beautiful and tragic complexities. Certainly to the faint hearted it may have seemed a little shocking. There is plenty of of full frontal nudity, both male and female (unlike the double standard in American cinema), and a very realistic sex scene to confront audiences in the very opening scene. But the erotica in this movie is really very natural with nothing perverse or kinky about it. It has an uninhibited earthiness about it that we have come to expect from French Movies. To others what may have seemed more shocking was the rather dark and depressing nature of the story, (if you haven't seen this movie don't go looking for a happy ending).
Director 'Jean-Jacques Beineix', in an article I read, said something like: that he dedicated this film to a generation of French Cinema watchers, who still believed in perfect love but knew it couldn't last. This indeed seems to be the underlying theme of the film, that young love and passion can't last, something has to kill it, you want to preserve it in time like a beautiful photograph or picture, before it withers or tarnishes. The sense of impending doom that hangs over Betty and Zorg's passionate and beautiful love affair, is present from the beginning.
The early part of the film is light and hopeful. When we initially meet 'Betty and Zorg'(who have recently began their love affair); she arrives, suitcase in hand, on his doorstep unexpectedly, where he lives in a sort of dreamlike,rundown, seaside shanty town, ready to move in. The scenes shot here are bathed in sunlight, clear blue skies and vibrant colours, to match the more hopeful mood. World weary 'Zorg', who seems content with his very basic existence, has his life quickly turned upside down by the younger free spirited and emotionally volatile, Betty. A beautiful raven haired, typically pouting and provocative French sex kittenish type. Betty soon discovers a secret collection of Zorg's writings, and becomes convinced he has the makings of a great author. The modest and more cynically realistic 'Zorg' is not so convinced. After being led by Betty to abandon their simple digs( in suitable reckless 'Betty' style) with the hope of finding publishing success and a better life in the city, Zorg and Betty embark on a rollercoaster journey that soon descends into much darker,gloomier territory. With each set back Betty becomes ever more disenchanted and emotionally unstable, and we discover, though the film never attempts to explain why, that she is infact a very disturbed young woman.
The film 'Betty Blue' has a very artistic,lyrical and poetic quality about it. Visually beautiful with one of the most hauntingly exquisite musical scores I have ever heard. It is one of those foreign arthouse movies that inevitably has now received cult status. There are many aspects of this film which you could easlily find fault in. The story(and characters)seem completely irrational and unbelievable at times. But the artistic cinematography,the unforgettable music of 'Gabriel Yared' and moving performances of Jean- Hughes Anglade (as the tenderly patient and understanding, though often bewildered,'Zorg')and Dalle as (as the audacious,strikingly sexy but unstable 'Betty'),all make this film standout. It's a love story as moving in its tragedy as it is in its passion and beauty, you feel so completely the very true and deep love Zorg has for Betty especially, she drives him to the brink with her behaviour, yet in a way re-ignites a spark in him and passion that was buried, through her love and belief in him. I must admit it touches the hopeless romantic in me, a cinema enthusiast, who also wants to believe in true and 'perfect love', forever preserved in time and memory.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2001
This is a heartbreakingly tragic film centred around Betty, (Beatrice Dalle) a beautiful but unstable young woman, whose instability - or madness - becomes progressively worse throughout the film. In the beginning we think she is just an admirablely rebellious and fiery person who is over-sensitive to slight and imagined insult. Later she is engulfed by these irrational and self-destructive bouts of hysteria for no perceptible reason. But this happens only occasionally; between times she behaves like a perfectly normal and happy person, as she has every reason to be. It is easy to become impatient with her. She keeps saying she has nothing to live for, that nothing she has ever done has worked out right, but how can this be when she is so much better off than so many millions of others, with beauty, two good friends and a good man who loves her to distraction despite everything? And she loves him in return.
Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglalde) is an aspiring novelist with a novel in manuscript he has given up all hope of ever seeing published. But she believes in him and, using only two fingers, types out the manuscript with painful slowness, and, with an heroic persistence, continues sending it out to the publishers despite receiving a steady stream of rejection slips. And here-in lies the tragedy ; at the end of the film, when she is dead to the world and past caring, her efforts bear fruit and the manuscript is accepted. How happy knowing this would have made her. But too late.
We leave him alone in his kitchen about to start a new novel, a novel that she will never see, leading to a success and prosperity she will have no share in. My God isn't that sad? "What might have been." the saddest words in the English language.
The pain lies in imagining the long and happy life they might have had together, but for this thing that mad people have, whatever it is, gnawing away inside her mind. No explanation is attempted of why she was the way she was, no revelation of some childhood trauma or of some past bitter experience. We are left to assume that she had some brain or genetic defect. Nor are we given any psychiatric diagnoses. It is mentioned at one point that she is neurotic, but then aren't we all? She mentions hearing voices in her head which is the classic symptom of Schizophrenia, but her other behaviour doesn't fit the pattern. Nor does her behaviour fit the pattern of the Manic-depressive. who, surely, is subject only to mood-swings not to sudden and violently wild outburst of behaviour. So we are left to ponder the nature of madness. It makes you think and it's all interesting stuff.
This is a long film, but with a wealth of interest and by no means depressing; there are many happy sequences and funny moments, and the acting is uniformly excellent.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2011
This film is one of my all time favorites. Most looking at this listing already know the unconventional tragic love story is really well done. Imperfectly paced, yes, but so beautifully shot that the film is just stunning -- visually and emotionally. The soundtrack also is absolutely wonderful and so well integrated.
Unfortunately, in a really stunning blunder, this Blu-Ray is only the shorter theatrical release.
I contacted Cinema Libre Studio and I understand they plan either the directors cut alone or a combined directors and this short version combined on a BD "in a few months." Frankly that leaves me cold to buying knowing they intend to milk this for second release.
Take a look at the blu-ray dot com review. The way they did the transfer is not much better than the SD DVD, which is available in the longer version, and even the audio is only a lossy Dolby 2.0. Really? With Gabriel Yared's legendary soundtrack that is the best they can do?
My advice is to rent this and wait to purchase the full cut on BD when it comes out.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2002
There's something so entrancing about this film. It takes you into its world, a world of passion and spontaneity, love and madness. Even though it's not the most brilliantly written film, it is just utterly captivating. It stayed with me for days after the first time I saw it.
I saw the director's cut before I watched the original version. When I watched the much shorter original, I felt cheated of experiencing some of Betty and Zorg's life. It is still a good movie in its original form, but the director's cut seems more complete. If you can't get enough of this movie, make sure you see the long version too.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2008
The Korean Import which claims to be the Director's cut, blurs out all male and female pubic nudity. It is absurd that the director's cut is so highly censored. Don't waste your money on this misleadingly labeled DVD
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2005
After watching this movie in 1991, I've been haunted by its story for a very long time, till finally my friends in Amazon.com sent me an email telling me about it coming out on DVD. I was afraid of buying it at the beginning, because of the new RCE, Region Coding Enhancement it has, so that you wont be able to play it on a Region Free DVD Player. i heard many stories about not being able to play it and other sorts of stuff. Well, i purchased it at a Virgin Megastore in Miami last month and lucky me, it played well in my Regio free dvd player.
I finally got the chance to watch it after 14 years of waiting, and oh boy, what was I missing for such a long time. it was worth the wait all along.
Betty Blue, is one of the most beautiful love stories ever written, though its a tragic one. You can literally feel the love Zorg feels for Betty, how she brings out the best of him, how much she admires him, even though he has lost faith in himself. The joy, the love, the pain... you will fell every little thing they feel, its that real!
The acting was brilliant, the photography excellent, and the music...oh the music!, well, let me put it this way, the piano theme wont leave your head for many many years to come. It was also a long time since a movie had moved me in such an incredible way. (it brought some wetness to my eyes, i tell ya)
You have to watch it for yourself to get your own conclusions. But anyhow, if you get the chance, buy it, rent it, do whatever you want, but just watch it. Although its quite long (3 hours) you wont regret the ride, its an amazing picture.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2004
I've been anxiously awaiting this DVD for a long time as it's one of my all-time favorite movies. I was fortunate enough to see this uncut version many years ago in Germany. The sequences that were cut in some cases don't mean a lot, but there are many entire scenes (including sequential scenes that had been cut) that add SO much to the character development and fill in plot holes (like, why does Zorg show up at the hospital wearing a dress?.. this bit always confused me until I saw the uncut version).
Overall, the acting is brilliant and the story is solid and interesting. If you're looking for something light and uplifting, though, this movie's not for you. Highly recommended.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2004
Engrossing account of struggling laborer/painter Zorg who meets and falls in love with beautiful but unstable Betty...a free spirited girl who will change his life forever. When she discovers he has written a yet unpublished book, she takes over and moves them from the seashore where he works to the city to try to get the book published. They make new friends, find work and all looks happy until she begins showing further signs of problems that cannot be ignored. At once funny, charming, sad, sensual story keeps you involved thanks to the fine performances of Jean-Hugues Anglade as Zorg and especially Beatrice Dalle as the strong willed Betty. Those unfamiliar with this French film should know that it contains frank nudity and sex but that shouldn't deter you from enjoying it. It is a rare look at a relationship that you want very much to succeed but to say any more wouldn't be fair. Many wonderful sequences stand out in "Betty Blue"...one of my favorites is the deal with the olive salesman. Watch for that one. The DVD is a fine print and the film is highly recommended for foreign film lovers. Just enjoy.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2004
If you like foreign films, or films that make you think about them long after you have see them, then you must see this film. I had rented it on VHS years ago on the advice of a British friend, who said it had the sexiest opening sequence ever filmed. Well, I wasn't bowled over by the opening, but the film was brilliant. Then a few years later the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan was screening the uncut version of this film, with an hour restored to the film. After seeing that, I couldn't imagine why someone chose to cut that hour out. The film really needs that extra hour of the story to flesh it out (no pun).
Rent this as soon as your local video store has it. You'll probably be buying it soon thereafter.