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I hardly noticed the nudity
on 5 February 2010
I hardly noticed the nudity the first time I saw this film because the story is completely absorbing. The second time I had to agree, there is a lot of Zorg and Betty on view, but it is acted in such an un-selfconcious way that it seems completely natural, this pair are passionately in love, completely absorbed in each other.
There may be Spoilers if you read on.
The film charts Betty's deterioration from free-spirited extrovert, with a tendency to over-react to situations, to self-harming introvert Zorg can no longer reach. Actually, it isn't so much about Betty, as about the effect this has on Zorg. Neither is it a film about mental illness, as we, like Zorg, never find out what she is suffering from. The change in Betty is not linear, at times she is happy, stable and loving, everything seems to be going well; which makes the end almost unutterably sad. (I hope that isn't too much of a spoiler.) I think the final breakdown is triggered because she really wants a stable life and a family, then finds she can't have a baby: so this happy life is not to be for her. That isn't really explained very well in the film, perhaps it's only weakness, as you do find yourself yelling Why? Why? Why? at her sometimes. It is elaborated more in the Director's cut; I originally saw the shorter version, but now have the longer one.
Parallel to this story is that Betty encourages Zorg to write. She believes in him and tries everything she can to get his writing published. At the end he is published, but too late for her to know, and is writing another book (and talking to her as the cat, very poignant).
The subsidiary characters are less detailed than the two leads, but are quite well drawn, I particularly warmed to the fun-loving, generous, but emotional Eddy and thought Zorg's rather unpleasant boss deserved what he got.
This film looks amazing, but it is not "look" at the expense of content. Is quite rightly a classic.
Nothing more to add except to say that the English dubbing is poor, so watch and listen to it in French and read the subtitles.