A vivacious young French couple travel to Paris in search of fame and fun.
The first thing that comes to mind is the poster - electric blue, overlaid with a beautiful woman's heavy pout. Then it's the music, the ch-ch-chung of guitar followed by a flowing accordion melody. Finally, it's the film itself, with that slow opening shot that creeps up on a couple fervently making love on a bed - their panting, sweating, thrashing intimacy undercut by a casual subtitle and voiceover telling us that he'd only known her for about a week. If you were a young, horny male student in the 1980s, then Betty Blue was your film.
Every frame of Jean-Jacques Beineix's film carries the stamp of its era and country of origin. Only in France could a story of passionate love so openly - and so misogynistically, many would argue - blame its tragic outcome on the inherent 'madness' of the female of the species. And only in the '80s could this be presented with such lashings of visually empty style. Betty Blue may have a touch more substance than Beineix's 1981 film, Diva, but it still delights in that look-for-look's-sake credo practiced by the likes of Luc besson from the middle of the decade onwards.
Nevertheless, the colours demand the richness of a DVD transfer (note that the disc is an HMV exclusive for the time being), although the extra hour of material in this director's cut (or version integral, as the French would say) is a mixed bag.
The pacing of Betty's (Beatrice Dalle) descent into self-harm and insanity is more realistically paced, but escapades such as boyfriend Zorg's (Jean-Hugues Anglade) cross-dressing crime spree don't fit the mood.
If Dalle never made anything of note again - and she didn't - then this alone would be enough to stake her claim as an icon of late 20th century cinema.