Charisma to Burn: Béatrice Dalle’s Incandescent Debut in Betty Blue

Jean-Jacques Beineix’s vibrant art-house sensation Betty Blue (1986) introduced to the world, in twenty-one-year-old Béatrice Dalle, an extraordinary new acting talent. Fully inhabiting the warmth, sexiness, and increasingly violent self-destructiveness of the title character, whose stormy love affair with an aspiring writer forms the movie’s beating heart, Dalle made the most of her screen debut, galvanizing Beineix’s tragic romance with her live-wire presence; the performance proved the start of a long career that has included collaborations with Jim Jarmusch, Claire Denis, and Michael Haneke. In the video above, excerpted from one of several supplements on our new edition of Betty Blue, Dalle herself remembers Beineix and cinematographer Jean-François Robin noticing the way she looked at her own reflection in the camera monitor, and remarking that it was yet another sign of her emergent star qualities. Also in the clip, Beineix and Robin discuss the effortlessness—and emotional intensity—with which the actor stepped into her role. “She was completely fresh and radiant in front of the camera,” Robin says here. “She was totally spontaneous.”

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