Betty Blue is a 1986 French film. Its original French title is 37°2 le matin, which means "37.2°C in the Morning". (37.2°C [99°F] is the normal morning temperature of a pregnant woman.) The film was directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix and stars Béatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade. It is based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Philippe Djian. The film had 3,632,326 admissions and was the eighth highest grossing film of the year in France.
The film received both a BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986, as well as winning a César Award for Best Poster. In 1992 it was awarded the Golden Space Needle of the Seattle International Film Festival.
In 2005 a director's cut was issued, with about an hour of extra footage.
Betty (Dalle) and Zorg (Anglade) are passionate lovers who live in a shack on the beach. He works as a handyman who does odd jobs to pay the bills. As the film begins, they have only been dating for a week and are in a very passionate stage of their relationship, portrayed in a graphic sex scene. Zorg narrates the story of their relationship via voiceover. He describes Betty as “like a flower with translucent antennae and a mauve plastic heart”. She yearns for a better life and quit her last job as a waitress because she was being sexually harassed by her boss.
Zorg's boss asks him to paint the 500 shacks that populate the beach—a fact that he keeps from Betty who thinks they only have to do one. She takes on the project with enthusiasm that quickly turns to anger once she learns the actual number. In response, Betty covers the boss’s car with pink paint.
During a nasty fight, Betty accidentally discovers a series of notebooks that contain a novel Zorg wrote years ago. Upon reading his novel, she realizes his true worth as an intelligent writer and tries to convince Zorg of it too. She is appalled at the menial work Zorg is subjected to and the nonchalant attitude he has toward his situation. Zorg, tries to write again, but cannot become inspired. The boss demands that Betty leave after Zorg is late again to work because of his relationship with Betty. Enraged by this, she trashes their shack again. Unbeknownst to Zorg while he is painting, Betty packs their things. When he is finished and comes back to his shack, Betty burns it and coerces Zorg to hitchhike with her to live with her best friend in the city.
Betty and Zorg move in to Betty's friend's place and Zorg does handywork in lieu of rent. The couple's intimate life doesn't skip a beat. Fueled by her passionate love for Zorg, she takes it upon herself to type up Zorg's novel and try to get it published. Zorg again tries to rekindle his imagination and start writing again, but fails to do so. Worse, Zorg receives rejection letters for his novel. Fearing that they might ignite Betty's anger, he hides them. Soon, Betty and Zorg find work at Betty's friend's boyfriend's restaurant. All is well until Betty mistakes an order and the customer lashes out at her. The fighting escalates to Betty's rage erupting by stabbing the customer in the arm with a fork. Emotionally overwhelmed, Zorg seizes Betty and the scene ends with her crying against the wall in his arms. When Betty discovers the rejection letters, under the guise of a doctors appointment, she takes Zorg to the house of one of the publishers where she assaults the publisher and is again seized by Zorg.
Betty's friend's boyfriend's mother dies, and Zorg, Betty, and her friend accompany her friend's boyfriend to the funeral. Her friend's boyfriend inherits his mother's piano store and the house above it, and offers Betty and Zorg to run the store for him and live there in return. They accept and get the place to themselves. Zorg continues as a handyman around his new neighborhood for money and befriends a local store owner, Bob. While working one day, he comes across a white stray cat and takes it in. One day while Betty and Zorg are in bed, Zorg stumbles upon medication Betty is taking. Betty shrugs it off as nothing. Zorg again tries to start another book, but cannot find the inspiration. Everything is smooth for Zorg and Betty until Betty has one of her emotional spells and runs out the house in her underwear. She is chased by Zorg until she calms down.
Despite being on birth control, a pregnancy test is positive. Zorg and Betty are overjoyed by the finding. Zorg buys onesies for their prospective baby. Betty goes to the doctor to confirm her pregnancy. Zorg comes home one day to find a medical paper that reads negative for pregnancy. Betty is nowhere in sight, having gone into one of her bouts of emotional frenzy. Zorg comes home the next day to find Betty distraught both mentally and visibly. Frustrated and worried, he shows her that he loves her. Days go by with no sign of Betty getting better. Zorg comes home one day to find blood splattered everywhere and Bob cleaning it up. Bob explains that Betty has poked out her eye in one of her emotional outbursts.
Betty is sent to a mental hospital and is unresponsive even to Zorg. He blames the doctor for the medication driving her off the edge and refuses the doctor's recommendation for shock therapy. His frustration with Betty's condition and the doctors causes him to assault the doctor and get kicked out of the hospital. He then gets news that someone wants to publish his book. He later returns incognito to visit Betty. She is totally unaware of the world around her. Still Zorg whispers into her ear his feelings and swears to tell their story. Zorg, out of love and pity, then takes her pillow and smothers her to death. He returns home and makes chili as he was doing the day Betty first came into his shack. The movie ends with him finally writing his next book and hearing the voice of Betty as he did when they were happy together and participating in the small talk they used to have.
Betty's free-spirited nature and devotion to Zorg develop into alarming obsession, aggression and destructiveness, and the film alternates between comic and tragic modes.
- Jean-Hugues Anglade as Zorg
- Béatrice Dalle as Betty
- Gérard Darmon as Eddy
- Consuelo De Haviland as Lisa
- Clémentine Célarié as Annie
- Jacques Mathou as Bob
- Vincent Lindon as Richard, the young policeman
- Jean-Pierre Bisson as The commissaire (in the complete version)
- Dominique Pinon as The drug dealer (in the complete version)
- Bernard Hug (in the complete version)
- Catherine D'At
- Claude Aufaure as The doctor
- Louis Bellanti as Mario
- Dominique Besnehard as Client in pizzeria
- Raoul Billerey as The old policeman