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Betty Blue (Blu-ray Review)

I love my French cinema and Cinema Libre Studio has brought Betty Blue to the Blu-ray format.  I must warn you that this is the original 116 minute theatrical version and not the 185 minute director’s cut that played in a few art house theaters not that long ago which I missed.  Hopefully people can get on the bandwagon and discover Betty Blue for the first time on Blu-ray since it does hit themes that many of us can relate to and others that we never will.  The trailers have all made the film seem like a dark comedy, but there’s more to it than that.  There is plenty of explicit sex to go around for those that are so inclined along with some intense drama.  If you’re up to the adventure then keep reading. 

Film  

Betty Blue is the story of a man named Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and his girlfriend Betty (Beatrice Dalle) who take up residence in a sleepy seaside community where Zorg acts as the local handyman.  Betty is there for the ride.  After an argument Betty discovers a manuscript that Zorg had been writing for who knows how long.  This impresses Betty and she makes mention of there being more to him than meets the eye.  It makes her proud to be Zorg’s lover.  After getting into an altercation with the landlord Betty and Zorg hit the road and end up in Paris where they take up residence in Betty’s friend Lisa’s (Consuelo De Haviland) home.  Lisa brings her boyfriend Eddy by (Gerard Darmon) who gives the couple a job working at his pizzeria.

Sprinkled in between working at the pizzeria and home Betty begins transcribing Zorg’s manuscript and sends out copies to various publishers.  It’s during these bits of “downtime” that we really start to see what is running through Betty’s head.  It’s as if Zorg’s ambitions propel her forward as opposed to propelling him forward, because he seems uninterested in being a published author most of the time.  One night Eddy gets some bad news that forces the group to his childhood home.  Once there Zorg is asked by Eddy if he and Betty would like to run the family’s piano shop for him.  They agree.

Betty Blue may seem like a very uneventful film, but believe me IT IS NOT.  Betty Blue does have multiple themes and there are bits and pieces of them that stand out and seem quite familiar to me.  Betty and Zorg are two wildly in love people who spend all day and night having sex and walking around naked barely surviving out in the real world.  The one constant in there lives is Betty’s destructive temper.  When something doesn’t go her way she explodes and wrecks everything in the vicinity.  Zorg, of course, takes her back.  Then something else sets her off and it’s back to square one.

Betty Blue is a push and pull type of film that on more than one occasion started to bug me.  It probably had something to do with my low tolerance to certain behaviors that were on display in Betty Blue. I’ve never been with a woman as mentally unstable as Betty, but have been with women who live without cares in the world; living in the moment types.  I think this is why Betty Blue gets to be in its own separate category.  It’s a multi-layered character study of the mentally ill along with those that sit back and do nothing until it’s too late.  It’s not only until the final shot of the film that I got what was going on.  Betty Blue is a co-dependent trip like no other.

Video 

Betty Blue is presented 1080i 16X9 1.66:1 widescreen.  Betty Blue contains a lovely color palette that really shines and gives the French countryside, along with the urban areas, some real depth.  Not only that, but the 80’s attire and some of those questionable fashion choices were meant to be seen in high definition.   Edge enhancement was not detected and neither were serious instances of DNR.  What was detected was that fast speed up that made the film look like it was shot as a soap opera or when you turn the “motion enhancer” option on your television set.  I thought that maybe this was taken from a PAL master.  The worst scenes that suffer from this motion judder are when things zoom in or when cars drive really fast by the camera.  I am disappointed in that respect, but thrilled as to how vibrant and lifelike the colors look.  I’m going to France.

Audio 

Betty Blue is presented in French Dolby 2.0.  Meh.  I would have preferred a nice DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track, but what are you going to do?  There are optional French subtitles in yellow, too.  Dialogue is handled very well, but sense of depth and clarity is somewhat compromised due to it being just a stereo soundtrack.  I never did need to turn the volume up to hear what was being said, though.  In fact, I had to turn it down before the neighbors thought I was being a little bit to “amorous” with my company.  Dialogue is the clear winner in this case.

Special Features

Betty Blue contains one special feature and it’s a doozy.  A one hour interview with director Jean-Jacques Beineix exclusive to the Blu-ray.  It’s a great one, but that’s all there is as far as supplements go.

  • Passion, Life, Cinema – In this exclusive interview, Beineix sits down with Tim Rhys of MovieMaker Magazine and speaks candidly about his films and his career.

Final Thoughts 

Betty Blue is a whirlwind!  There is plenty of loud sex, full frontal male/female nudity, self destructive behavior, and humor.  You’ve been warned.  I sure hope that Cinema Libre Studio get their hands on the full director’s cut someday, because that would just make this film even greater than it already is.  As it stands, this version of Betty Blue on Blu-ray is quite good as long as you don’t mind the questionable technical specifications.  I’d suggest that you bite your lip and plow through, because Betty Blue is one of the greats of French cinema.

 

Order Betty Blue on Blu-ray!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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