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Saturday Night at the Movies

By Niven Govinden

You can keep your Goonies and Karate Kid trilogies, for a precocious 4th former BeineixBetty Blue was the film of the ’80s, and one that I was obsessed with for a good couple of years.

Zorg a handyman, who lives quietly and writes in his spare time, finds his life taking a wild and unpredictable turn once he hooks up with his new girlfriend Betty. What’s not to love?

It helped that it was French, giving a layer of exoticism to my personal rejection of the high school mores of the time: Bon Jovi and Teenwolf.

It helped too that the two main actors, Jean-Hugues Anglade and Beatrice Dalle were hot and mostly naked. Yes, it was helpful. Educational, even.

But watching this again recently, my hope it would be more than a bookish teenager’s wet dream was pleasantly realised – despite the hokiness of the last reel.

It has much in common with Hollywood’s rebel movies, more so than I realised as a kid. I kept thinking of James Dean and Warren Beatty as I was watching it. As a teen, the idea of packing up and skipping to a city – not just any city, Paris – rang louder than ten bells. Perhaps it still does. My first novel We Are The New Romantics started with a similar quest for escape.

Most of all, it’s a movie about the freedom to write. It’s a soppy notion of what that vocation really means: holed-up in a tatty provincial bungalow with a typewriter, only to stash the results under the bed. Yes, soppy, and unrealistic, but for me the start of a promise that holds true…

First posted: Saturday, December 5th, 2009.

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