37°2 le matin (Betty Blue) (1986)

A lackadaisical handyman and aspiring novelist tries to support his younger girlfriend as she slowly succumbs to madness.

Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and Betty (Beatrice Dalle) are passionate lovers, painting beach houses by day and making love by night. When Betty discovers Zorg’s forgotten unpublished novel, she declares him a genius and they head for the city to find fame and fortune but end up selling pianos in a mountain village instead. There she attempts suicide, and Zorg realises what everyone’s been telling him from the start – Betty’s a few sheep short in the top paddock Those little things like trashing his employer’s car, burning their bungalow down and mutilating publishers, that he didn’t notice cos she was bonking his brains out. So he terminates the relationship.

Forget the Director’s Cut (although Betty’s descent into madness is still too abrupt), this original version is far more charming and satistying, and hides the film’s faults much better than the longer boring version. But it’s still glossy trash masquerading as art. Beineix’s origins in advertising are too apparent in the lack of content and coherence, but the explicit sex (apparently they actually did it), the fantastic photography and the tragic storyline guarantees a full cinema.

Just in case you think this is a sexploitation movie then rest assured; we see a fair amount of Jean-Hughes Anglade’s widget, even though he’s hung like a dormouse.