Posted May 30th, 2007
In the last several days I have run across several references to a evocative movie, “37°2 le matin,” or as it is known in the
The movie, released November 7th, 1986, was based on a novel, also by the title of “37°2 le matin,” by Philippe Djian. The movie version of the novel is directed Jean-Jacques Beineix, who also directed another one of my “all time favorite movies, “Diva.”
The music for the movie is by Gabriel Yared. The recurring musical theme is as haunting as the movie; a piano progression, which will remain in your head for the longest time…
In many of my old movie notes from many years ago – this movie is consistently listed in my all time top-ten movies…
According to several published accounts, “The film received both a BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986, as well as winning a César Award for Best Poster. In 1992 it was awarded the Golden space Needle of the
For those not aware of the movie, it is not a movie for the weak of heart. It is about a writer who gets involved with a woman who is psychologically disheveled but nevertheless somewhat socially acceptable at the beginning of the movie. The movie documents her precipitous quixotic psychological deterioration... The excellent use of a narrator was effective and affective...
“Zorg is a handyman working at in France, maintaining and looking after the bungalows. He lives a quiet and peaceful life, working diligently and writing in his spare time.
One day Betty walks into his life, a young woman who is as beautiful as she is wild and unpredictable. After a dispute with Zorg's boss they leave and Betty manages to get a job at a restaurant.
She persuades Zorg to try and get one of his books published but it is rejected which makes Betty fly into a rage. Suddenly Betty's wild manners starts to get out of control. Zorg sees the woman he loves slowly going insane.”
“Betty (Dalle) and Zorg (Anglade) are passionate lovers who live in a shack on the beach. He works as a handyman who does odd jobs to pay the bills. As the film begins, they have only been going out for a week and are in a very passionate stage of their relationship. Zorg narrates the story of their relationship via voiceover. He describes Betty, “like a flower with translucent antennae and a mauve plastic heart.” She yearns for a better life and quit her last job as a waitress because she was being sexually harassed by her boss.
Zorg’s boss asks him to paint the 500 shacks that populate the beach — a fact that he keeps from Betty who thinks they only have to do one. She attacks the project with enthusiasm that quickly turns to anger once she learns the actual number. In response, Betty covers the boss’ car with pink paint.
During a nasty fight, Betty accidentally discovers a series of notebooks that contain a novel Zorg wrote years ago. She reads it and falls in love with him even more. She then makes it her mission in life to type every hand-written page and get it published. Betty's freespiritedness and devotion to Zorg develop into alarming obsession, aggression and destructiveness, and the film alternates between comic and tragic modes.
Roger Ebert lists it on his top-ten “most hated films.”
Oh well. Mr. Ebert likes Michael Moore…
A reason Mr. Ebert may not like the movie is that he is frequently hyper-critical of movies that have “hypocritical agendas” such as “a confrontational film that is passed off as art, but is merely lurid and sensational; Ebert has levelled this charge against such films as The Night Porter and Blue Velvet.” [Cited by Wikipedia (although I have seen this in other published accounts.)]
Oh my – he really did not like the movie…
“Now comes ‘Betty Blue,’ which opens with a shot of two people sideways on a bed, making love beneath a portrait of the Mona Lisa, while the narrator says: ‘I had known Betty for a week. We made love every night. The forecast was the storms.’…
She finds a manuscript he has written, determines that he is a genius, and types it up, tens of thousands of words. (Typists will enjoy the typing scenes, in which she makes typing errors, causing her to throw away countless copies of Page 1, and then has the whole manuscript typed in no time. This is the way typing is thought about by people who always use yellow legal pads themselves.)
What is Bieneix trying to say in "Betty Blue"? I am not sure. The behavior of the characters is senseless and boring. We lose interest in Zorg because anyone who could tolerate Betty Blue would scarcely have the discrimination to write a good book. One scene follows another senselessly, like in a soap opera, until Betty goes mad and we can go home.
And yet the movie has made millions in
Reviews have been written debating the movie's view of madness, of feminism, of the travail of the artist. They all miss the point. "Betty Blue" is a movie about Beatrice Dalle's boobs and behind, and everything else is just what happens in between the scenes where she displays them.
My word… Read his entire review here.
I saw the movie twenty years ago… Who knows, with my current sensibilities, perhaps I would see the movie again and not like it either… I do not remember the gratuitous nudity for which Mr. Ebert objects, although I have no doubt that there is a great deal of that in the movie… The trailer is rated “R” or I would embed it in this post. Although, curiously enough, the “R” rating for the trailer is because of the nudity of the male protagonist.
I remember being fascinated by the portrayal of the artist–writer and his interaction with the madness of his companion. Sorta like a “Five Easy Pieces” on acid. (“Five Easy Pieces” is another all time favorite of mine. I will always remember that it opened on my birthday, September 11th, - in 1970.
Perhaps, just perhaps, both movies portray the reality of relationships of which many artists may identify… Just as I like the video of the Linkin Park song, “Numb.”
After all, as Philip K. Dick once said:
"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."
Interesting post script:
Et bonus video: Scène de danse entre Beatrice Dalle et Romain Duris, tirée du film dix-sept fois Cecile Cassard