Review: “Betty Blue” (1986; Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix); Criterion Blu-ray Special Edition

“Sex, Eyes, & Mental Illness”

By Raymond Benson

What made the 1986 French picture, Betty Blue so striking were three things—the explicit sex on display, the mesmerizing eyes of lead actress Béatrice Dalle, and the film’s frank depiction of mental illness and its devastating effect on a relationship.

Director Jean-Jacques Beineix had burst onto the scene with the superb, quirky, and new New Wave crime picture, Diva (1981) that embraced not only the French New Wave of the early 1960s, but the early 1980s pop New Wave of music and visuals that were exploding in all mediums at that time. Diva was a critical and commercial hit with Western audiences, although Beineix’s follow-up, Moon in the Gutter (1983), was not. The filmmaker bounced back, though, with Betty Blue, which received a deserved Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Based on a popular French novel by Philippe Djian, the story concerns a

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