10 August 2012

Béatrice Dalle

Seductive French actress and wild girl Béatrice Dalle (1964) made a big splash with her film debut in 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (1986). She went on to appear in a series of major roles in French and American films. Her unpredictability has gained her almost as much attention off-screen as on.

 Béatrice Dalle
French postcard by Heroes, no. SPC 2330.

Béatrice Dalle was born as Béatrice Françoise Odona Cabarrou in Brest, France, in 1964. (However, a number of sources state she was born in Le Mans, France.) In 1985 she married the painter Jean-François Dalle but they divorced in 1988. She was spotted by a photographer on the Champs Élysées. Following a cover shoot on Photo magazine on the subject of Lolitas, Dalle was introduced to agent Dominique Besnehard, who in turn introduced her to film director Jean-Jacques Beineix. He cast her in the lead role in his erotic drama 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (1986, Jean-Jacques Beineix). Betty Blue is a sexually aggressive free spirit who becomes involved with Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a repairman moonlighting as a writer. The two engage in a variety of sexual encounters, and grow more passionate toward each other. Her portrayal of the beautiful, impulsive but increasingly unstable Betty was a sensation. The French cinema had a new sex symbol. Jason Buchanan at AllMovie: “Immediately recognized by the French masses for her unmistakable presence and stunning performance as the titular character, Dalle's career was soon on the rise, with a subsequent performance as a woman who claims to be a witch in La Visione del Sabba/The Witches' Sabbath (1988, Marco Bellocchio) cementing her status as an unconventional actress of daring sensibilities.” Chimère/Bubble (1989, Claire Devers) was entered into the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. She then appeared opposite Isabelle Huppert in the dark drama La Vengeance d'une Femme/A Woman's Revenge (1989, Jacques Doillon), based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Eternal Husband. Privately, she had a ten-year relationship with the French rapper Joey Starr.

Beatrice Dalle
 French postcard, no. 2082.

Undesirable Immigrant
Béatrice Dalle made her international debut as a beautiful but surly blind girl in the Paris episode of the round-the-world comedy Night on Earth (1991, Jim Jarmusch). That year, she also featured in the music video Move To Memphis (1991) by Norwegian band A-ha. Dalle appeared almost exclusively French films, including À la Folie/Six days, six nights (1994, Diane Kurys) about A menage-a-trois between rival sisters (Dalle and Anne Parillaud) and a boyfriend, and J'ai Pas Sommeil/I Can't Sleep (1994, Claire Denis) about two nocturnal serial killers who terrorize Paris. Her first Hollywood production was The Blackout (1997, Abel Ferrara) as the girlfriend of Matthew Modine, but an American career was cut short. During the production of The Blackout in Miami, she was arrested for cocaine possession. The incident would later come back to haunt her. Following her arrest, Dalle was declared an ‘Undesirable Immigrant'. She would later be denied an American work permit to play the role of Bruce Willis' wife in The Sixth Sense, leaving the role open for actress Olivia Williams to fill. It was not the only incident. In 1991, Dalle had already been arrested for a drug conviction in France in addition to a prior conviction of stealing jewels from a Paris boutique. She also had a drug conviction in France and there was another incident in which Dalle physically attacked a Parisian meter maid who was writing the actress a ticket for parking in a handicapped space. 

Béatrice Dalle
French postcard by Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. ST-160. Photo: J. Casano / Stills.

A Princess Who Falls For A Prisoner
In 2001, Béatrice Dalle appeared in the controversial art-house thriller Trouble Every Day (2003, Claire Denis), in which she played a cannibal opposite Vincent Gallo. Then she was directed by Nobuhiro Suwa in H Story (2001), a postmodern adaptation of Alain Renais' classic Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959). Suwa plays himself as a director who is seeking to remake the masterwork and who has cast Dalle in the lead role originally played by Emmanuelle Riva. A critical success were the dramas Le temps du loup/The Time of the Wolf (2003, Michael Haneke) starring Isabelle Huppert, Clean (2004, Olivier Assayas) with Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte, and L'Intrus/The Intruder (2004, Claire Denis) with Michel Subor. In 2005, Dalle encountered Guénaël Méziani when they co-starred in Tête d'Or/Golden Head (2005), a film produced inside a prison in Brest. She appeared as a princess who falls for a prisoner. In reality, Dalle also fell in love at first sight with Meziani who was really serving a 12-year prison sentence for assaulting and raping his ex-girlfriend. She married him after 24 one-hour visits with him, and spoke on his behalf at hearings for his early release. According to the newspaper Le Parisien, in May, 2009 just weeks after he was given a conditional release for good behavior, police were called to her flat in the Marais district of Paris because of a violent dispute in which Meziani allegedly threatened to kill Dalle. In recent years, she starred in such films as À l'intérieur/Inside (2007, Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury), in which she played a cruel psychopath stalking a pregnant woman, the TV film New Wave (2008, Gaël Morel) and the family drama Domaine/Domain (2009, Patric Chiha) in which she played an alcoholic and onetime professor of mathematics. At the time of writing this post, Béatrice Dalle’s latest films are Notre paradis/Our Paradise (2011, Gaël Morel) and Bye Bye Blondie (2012, Virginie Despentes) with Emmanuelle Béart. And yes, Dalle and Guénaël Méziani are still married.

Beatrice Dalle
French postcard, no. A079. Sent by mail in 1994.

Sources: Jason Buchanan (AllMovie), Colin Randall (The Telegraph), Henry Samuel (The Telegraph), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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