“C’est le vent, Betty”
In 1986, this film poster was on the bedroom walls of many young students.
It was immediately iconic.
Beatrice Dalle, the stunning actress reminiscent of Sophia Loren and classic Hollywood set temperatures on fire in this stunning movie about love, life and madness.
Before it was released it was deemed too long for the cinema so was cut from its original running time of approx 180 mins to 120 mins. 5 years later, the director Jean-Jacques Beineix put that straight and released his Version Integrale (Complete Version), the full cut of the film he always intended to be seen.
Not explicitly an ‘un amour fou’ yet filled with all the ingredients, this beautifully tragic tale of love, life and mental illness between Betty (Dalle) and Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglade) is a film that begs to be seen. If you haven’t seen yet, now’s the time.
When it was released the sex and nudity was the big topic of conversation but, 28 years later, although still plenty, is never graphic. The version integrale has a lot more nudity equality than the original cinema version with Anglade balancing it out. It is natural and definitely non-exploitative. When you compare it to some of the other films coming out of America in the 80’s (Basic Instinct, anyone?) it is far less offensive.
What occurs now, watching it after all these years, is how stunningly it is shot, acted and directed. There is a sensitivity and love for the characters that Beineix has clearly drawn. Dalle and Anglade give possibly career best performances and are backed up wonderfully by a plethora of French character actors. Consuelo De Haviland as Betty’s best friend, Lisa and Gerard Darmon as her boyfriend, Eddy are both brilliant, giving balance to the drama of Betty & Zorg’s relationship. Jacques Mathou and Clementine Celarie as the butcher and his wife with marital problems, Vincent Lindin and Raoul Billerey as two local police officers provide some brilliantly absurd humour as does Jean-Pierre Bisson, also a policeman and rejected writer. Dominique Pinon also turns up as a small time drug dealer who wants to support his surfing dream. All these petites vignettes allow the story of Betty and Zorg to breathe freely and feel thoroughly fleshed out. There are some absolute gems here including the olive tasting/ tequila rapido scene which is pretty much a perfect scene.
This is a classic film; nearly 30 years after its initial release it truly stands the test of time as a brilliant piece of art, enjoyable, passionate and tragic.
The original French title 37⁰2 Le Matin refers to the normal morning temperature of a pregnant woman.
The first line of narration is:
“I had known Betty for a week. We made love every day. The forecast was for storms.”
An incredibly prophetic opening to an amazing film that has stood the test of time officially making it a classic.