DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS......
1st October, 2020
I have less than 1,700 euros ($1,980) in my bank account, I don't have a car nor an apartment and I live at a friend's place.
Béatrice Dalle, who now supports the Yellow Vest Movement
Béatrice Dalle, is perhaps the very personification of the fallen woman. A sort of mythic Greek Pandora spreading metaphoric STD’s across the cinematic world. Following her break-through role as the lead in Jean-Jacques Beineix’s controversial 1986 movie, Betty Blue, the young starlet, a gallic sex-kitten à la Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani, has slipped, regardless of advancing years and squandered material wealth, ever more deeply into the attention-seeking quagmire of vapid adolescent social, political and sexual rebellion. Daring to make comments about bestiality on prime time TV, stealing from jewelry shops on the Champs Elysées, assaulting a traffic warden on a Parisian street and getting banned from the United States for slapping a consular official when he raised the issue of her numerous cocaine violations.
Photographed by pure chance, on a Parisian street, Dalle’s image was first featured on the cover of a Lolita-type magazine called Photo. Her face captivating the casting director Dominique Besnehard, who thought her full lips and earthy sensuality would be just right to play the eponymous free spirit Betty, opposite Jean-Hugues Anglade as Zorg, in an adaption of Philippe Djian’s Kerouac-style On the Road French novel 37.2 Degrees in the Morning (1985).
A film that went on to be nominated for best foreign language feature at the BAFTAS, Golden Globes and the Oscars, and make over $29 million at the box-office. Turning Dalle into every teenage boy’s masturbatory fantasy after the Gaumont movie hit the cinema screens. The opening lines of her first British newspaper interview, with a man from the Daily Mirror in 1986, read:
“She is "the new Bardot" continuing, "The tall dark girl... skimpy blue dress... she stuck her teensy weensy thumb in her gorgeous mouth and began to giggle. The sexiest sound I'd ever heard...”
"How long was it before you realized that you had a certain physical effect on men?" she was once asked. The coquette replying "Very early on, I was 15”. Indeed, Beatrice stirred such excitement that she was an immediate target for other gossip hungry media hacks. Her hyper-sexual full-on erotic electricity coupled with her post-film diva-like behavior in night-clubs like Les Bains Douches and Le Gibus earning her the nick-name la grande bouche (the big mouth) and her exploits filling newspaper columns and glossy magazines all around the world.
Leading to invasive articles and increasingly exaggerated biographical details such as the claim that her erstwhile husband Jean-François Dalle, an artist, or former boxer, depending upon the journalist’s untrustworthy source, had tried to commit suicide. Rumours Dalle did little to quell when she subsequently took up with the gay English actor Rupert Everett. “Rupert is gay, but I am Béatrice Dalle. I’ve never thought I’m beautiful, but I have a power of attraction”. A reality that the English actor fondly records in great detail in his hilarious 2006 schlock book Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins:
“She’s Joan of Arc - the suicide-bomber version” Which sums up her capricious nature very well. Some describing her as -"a walking grenade - a one-woman Vietnam" - "the patron saint of the abyss". With Dalle claiming she met Julien Maury, the co-director of Inside, her foetus-ripping role, “in the chatroom on a farm-sex website” and facing off against veteran journalist Patrick Poivre d’ Arvor after he insensitively referred to her shoplifting charge in 1991, by replying "Well, since you're in the mood for speaking frankly, why don't we discuss all those love letters you sent me? Why don't we talk about them?"
Her Curriculum Vitae, commencing with the lascivious love making with Anglade in the opening scenes of Betty Blue continued with creditable performances in A Woman’s Revenge with Isabelle Huppert (1990); Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth (1991); Claude Lelouch’s La Belle Histoire (1992); Maroun Bagdadi’s La Fille de l’air(1992); Christophe Honoré’s Seventeen Times Cécile Cassard (2002); and Patrick Chiha’s Domain (2009).
All unfortunately overshadowed by the simply awful I Can’t Sleep(1994); the pointless and louche Clubbed to Death (1996); the cannibalistic Claire Denis production Trouble Every Day (2001); and Inside (2007) for which she won both the Fangoria Chainsaw Award and the Fright Meter Award for best supporting actress.
But despite her extensive professional portfolio it is the ongoing discord of her decadent personal life and the notoriety she has earned for picking ‘bad ass’ men that is most disturbing. In one episode of Antoine de Caunes’ Eurotrash, a drug addled Dalle waxed lyrical about the beauty of male West Indian torsos and subsequently embarked on a one woman campaign to date some of the most unattractive North African and Martinique born non-entities the French gendarmerie have failed to detain at the border.
Reading between the lines it is as one journalist suggested: “tempting, and more than plausible, to see her entire adult life - the grotesquely repugnant scenes in some films; her unwavering allegiance to punk; her criminality, and her marriage to Guénaël Meziani, who is of North African origin - as a protracted revenge against her parents' honest, God-fearing conservatism”.
There is evidence from her own anecdotal slips that her mother was fanatically religious and that her father, an ex-sailor of Basque origins who fought in Algeria and then went into engineering, had held strong right wing views. Dalle confessing “Any time my parents tried to influence me, I did the opposite”. So, this would be role model for wanton womanhood, was and is perhaps perpetually acting out all those ‘daddy issues’ that dog the Mars and Venus universe of interstellar gender warfare. Dalle of course choosing the all too familiar miscegenation route to exact her revenge. “All I ever did," she says, "was to sleep with the enemy."
Something she pursued with some vigor. Dominique Besnehard, her discoverer saying: “It's almost as though she has remained frozen in a perpetual state of teenage revolt."
But what kind of revolt one may well ask?
Well despite her contempt for the Me TooMovement and her recently found solidarity with the predominantly white protest group the Gilets Jaunes, the reality is that despite some of her earlier hedonistic indiscretions being excused as the excesses of youthful hubris there are some that cannot be forgiven. The first was a ten year relationship with Didier Morville (aka Joey Starr) lead singer with Nique Ta Mere (Fuck Your Mother) - a man who has a record for assaulting an air-stewardess, attacking a car with a machete, beating a former girlfriend and punching a monkey on live TV. Dalle telling all who asked her “It was his character that attracted me”. Then going on to say "A lot of people thought I was with Didier (Morville, aka Joey Starr) just because he's a rap artist. People thought he was this big thug who went around hitting everyone."
The second major mistake was her rushed marriage to a convicted rapist, Guénaël Meziani, a man she had spent less than one week with as a volunteer prison visitor before she proposed to him on the set of Gilles Blanchard’s movie Tête d’Or in the Ploemeur prison in Brittany. “We were made for each other!” she announced with some aplomb in the French version of Elle magazine. Then telling a fawning French glossy Gala magazine interviewer, after she had paid the fees for her new husband’s defence lawyer, that when her groom left prison he would be a different man. Not unsurprisingly, Meziani, was re-admitted to prison in 2009 after committing various acts of aggression, including an attack on Dalle herself. The marriage the actress once described as “intense” and “precious” ending in a bitter divorce. Sending Dalle into one long physical and mental decline, scratching out a living in a cocaine fuelled career in the independent movie genre performing in small productions like Livid (2010), Notre Paradis (2011) and L’Etoile du Jour (2012).
So for now Dalle soldiers on, in her own indomitable fashion. Touring the provinces in 2014 as the lead in Victor Hugo’s “carniverous, animal, beautiful and monstrous” Lucrezia Borgia; sharing the stage with Virginie Despentes to narrate the numerous gay pornographic fantasies from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Memoirs; and more recently Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, co-starring with former lover Joey Starr, first in Rouen and more recently at the Folies Bergèrew in Paris, to very mixed reviews.
Choosing to Ignore the brave women of the Nemesis Patriotic Feminine Collective who took to the streets of Paris to raise awareness of the disproportionate number of rapes committed against French women by men of foreign extraction and turning a self-conscious blind eye to the part she herself has played in normalizing miscegenation. The overweight star, looking more like Roseanne Barr than Carolyn Jones in the role of Morticia Addams in her obsessive black Spanish widow outfit, now displays a religious tattoo and fatuously claims - “I was raised a Catholic and still go to church every week. In fact, it’s the one round the corner on the Rue de Turenne…I love Jesus Christ…because he invented bondage!”
So, having pressed the self-destruct button and thrown away her undoubted talents, she fades childless into the pellucid oblivion of celluloid history. A fringe celebrity ignominiously seeking attention - a lost goddess amid a glittering constellation of lesser mortals – a once incandescent flaming meteor fizzling out of frame-shot - when she could so very easily have been the Polestar for a whole generation.