Art movie or sex romp? Please don’t make us choose. For many teens growing up in the mid-1980s, French import Betty Blue represented an opportunity to expand our global horizons, to mature in the presence of some tragic romance—and to gaze upon the bodacious Béatrice Dalle. “Few women could dress so casually,” admires Betty’s handyman lover, Zorg (the Adrien Brody–like Anglade), a subtle compliment that combusts in the fire of Dalle’s braless, warmly animal allure.
But if Betty Blue feasts on the bodies of its leads—Dalle plants a tender kiss on Anglade’s “sleepy, warm slug”—it’s this director’s cut that fully establishes the movie’s artistic bona fides. More than an hour of material has been added to the narrative, which begins in a splash of pink paint at a seaside resort, and then meanders to Paris and a cute hamlet where the couple’s attraction blooms. Isn’t it praise to confess that none of these new scenes stood out to me? The movie is still an organic whole, its exuberant lovemaking and drunken carousing alternating with a committed relationship’s natural lulls.
Ultimately, the film has to be discussed in terms of insanity, Betty’s mind slipping from its golden-lit oasis into something scarier. Her flinging of pots and pans feels a touch unnecessary in this longer cut. Amour fou is the force of nature here, not illness. You could watch this couple prepare meals, tease each other and argue for longer. If Betty Blue plays into the salacious archetype of the “liberated” foreign film, at least it repays you with real feelings of earthiness. And now, it’s closer to the serious movie we always said it was, while blushing.