Betty Blue (37°2 le Matin): Director's Cut (Columbia) (1986)

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Released 22-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-Carandiru, The Fog Of War, La Mentale, Le Pacte Du Silence
Trailer-Warriors Of Heaven And Earth
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 177:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (92:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jean-Jacques Beineix
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jean-Hugues Anglade
Béatrice Dalle
Gérard Darmon
Consuelo De Haviland
Clémentine Célarié
Jacques Mathou
Vincent Lindon
Jean-Pierre Bisson
Dominique Pinon
Bernard Hug
Catherine D'At
Claude Aufaure
Louis Bellanti
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Gabriel Yared


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Italian
Spanish
Arabic
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Serbian
Slovenian
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This instant cult classic starts with an extended sex scene between Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) and his new girlfriend, Betty (Béatrice Dalle). They are living in a beach-side holiday home, one of some 500 identical buildings, all in need of a paint job. That's what Zorg's sleazy boss has employed him to do. But neither has reckoned with Betty, who has a tendency to lose her cool big-time. She finally ends Zorg's employment by burning down their shack, and they flee to Paris. Here they move into a house owned by the lonely Lisa (Consuelo De Haviland). Lisa is not lonely for long: she meets Eddy (Gérard Darmon). He is a restaurant owner and pretty soon both Zorg and Betty are working there. Betty's temper soon starts to cause trouble. Meanwhile Betty has read Zorg's unpublished manuscript and determines to get it published.

    When Eddy's mother dies, he asks Zorg to run her piano store in the country. But Betty's mental health continues to deteriorate, with tragic consequences.

    This film has been described as soft-core porn, which seems ludicrous looking at it in 2005. To me the sex scenes and nudity are integral to the story and are not exploitative, and are certainly mild compared to more recent fare. Not that the film is any great masterpiece. It is merely a simple piece of French whimsy expanded to epic length, with some character observation, a healthy dollop of humour and some nice photography. This director's cut version runs just short of three hours, and even though it represents Jean-Jacques Beineix's final thoughts there are narrative gaps and sudden shifts in tone which don't quite gel. The pacing is often very slow, which makes the film a bit of an ordeal to watch in one sitting. All of the actors are excellent, particularly the underrated Dalle, quite convincing as she runs the gamut of emotional states. Some of the supporting actors are quite funny, for example Clémentine Célarié as the randy wife of the local baker.

    A note on the title of the movie: it translates as 37.2 degrees in the morning. 37.2C is the upper limit of normal body temperature in the early morning; anything above this is deemed to be a fever. I expect it refers to Betty's being on the edge.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp and detailed, with a filmic look helped by ample grain. The image is nice and bright, with good contrast in the generally well-lit scenes. There is a minor issue with shadow detail in the less frequent darker scenes. This is compounded by black levels in such sequences lacking solidity and richness, and often areas of the image that are supposed to be black look more like dark brown.

    Colour otherwise is very good, with bright and vivid reds and blues, lifelike flesh tones and flora. Blue skies look very good.

    Some faint telecine wobble is evident, though this is really only noticeable during the opening credits. There is some aliasing at times on diagonal edges, but this is not distracting. At least, it is not as distracting as the edge enhancement which can be seen throughout much of the running time, for example at 17:05 and 96:20. Film artefacts are also visible throughout, mainly white flecks but also bits of dirt.

    Optional subtitles are available in numerous languages, including English. The subtitles seem well-timed and none of the dialogue lacks some sort of translation. Though these are in American English, the only discordant notes are when characters are referred to as "assholes".

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change at 92:28, well positioned at a cut.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is French Dolby Digital 2.0, with no surround encoding.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though French speakers would have more chance of telling you whether it is intelligible than I would. The audio is free of significant problems. There is some minor distortion in some of the louder passages, though only when the sound is turned right up. The effects and background noise come across well.

    Music is by Gabriel Yared. It is sparingly used, and relies heavily on repetition, with a piano being used for percussive effect at times. A nice score which has sold well on CD I believe.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers-Carandiru, The Fog of War, La Mentale, Le Pacte du Silence, Warriors of Heaven and Earth (6:51)

    Trailers for past releases from Columbia Tristar. On initially putting the disc in the machine, the trailer for Carandiru is played before the main menu. It can be skipped, but this is an annoying practice.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The film was previously released in Region 4 by AV Channel. Their license has now lapsed. This release, unseen by this reviewer, contained several extras. Otherwise it seems to have been virtually the same as the new Columbia Tristar release. Hearsay evidence suggests that the two Region 4 releases were transferred from the same original master, so the same film artefacts should appear on both.

    The Region 1 release also comes from Columbia Tristar and similarly has no extras related to the film. The French Region 2 release contains a director commentary and making of featurette, cast and crew interviews and screen tests, plus production notes and a trailer, but no English subtitles.

Summary

    A nice diversion, though not profound.

    The video quality and audio quality are good.

    No substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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