The director of Diva and 37°2 le matin died yesterday at the age of 75 after having deeply marked French cinema in the 80s. Through his films and his rants.
“Betty and Zorg are orphans” wrote Béatrice Dalle yesterday on her Instagram account. And with them the 3.6 million spectators who had made 37 ° 2 in the morning, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s biggest hit in the 1980s. late with The big Blue by Luc Besson. Beineix, Besson, Carax alias the BBC, which in that decade defiled the guardians of the temple of French cinema, judging with disdain these young filmmakers who asserted loud and clear the importance of the image, of a pop aesthetic and claimed in their cinema. We loved Beineix as much as we hated him. And he wasn’t the last one to go to the chestnut and say out loud what he could have kept quiet about if he had reasoned in terms of his career. But growing up was contrary to the indocile that he never ceased to be.
It all started for him at the end of the 1960s when he decided to leave medical school to try the competition for Idhec, at the gates of which he failed. But no matter, the virus was there. And it is on the ground that he will learn his trade. As assistant director. On TV (with the ultra-popular soap opera The holy darlings, directed by Jean Becker) and in the cinema for René Clément (The Hare’s Race Through the Fields), Jerry Lewis (The Day the clown cried, remained unfinished) and especially Claude Zidi (The shallot race, Wing or thigh, L’Animal). He then signs a first short, Mr. Michel’s Dog in 1977 before the leap into feature film with Diva in 1980. The unique story of a mad opera maker chased by thugs because he has the last existing recording of a singer. All Beineix is in this film. His ultra-formalism, his taste for entertainment, his infinite love of romance. And yet the case seems badly started. After two or three weeks, shunned by a large part of the critics who think (Serge Daney in Liberation in the lead, headwind against its “advertising aesthetics”), this film without a star leaves the poster of almost all of the screens, where cardboard then The party and Come to my house, I live with a friend. All rooms except one. The Cinema Le Panthéon in Paris which will keep it on display for a year. And week after week, word of mouth will do its job and allow Diva a massive resurgence after her triumph at the Césars (4 trophies therefore that of the best first film) until accumulating more than 2 million admissions. But in an interview given to Studio Cinélive in March 2016, Beineix insisted on putting the dots on the i’s on this success story unlike any other. ” George Cravenne, the president of the Caesars, claimed that this miracle was due to this ceremony. It’s wrong. All the more false since Cravenne had himself been the press officer of Diva and at the entrance to the projo, he dissuaded journalists from entering the room… »
With Beineix, it was going all out. Intranquillity was rooted in him, in success as in failure. The absence of jargon, its trademark. ” There was a time when my dreams were bigger than my skills. So I dared everything “he confessed in this same interview of 2016 to tell The moon in the gutter, son film post- Diva, adapted from David Goodis with which his detractors who were waiting for him at the turn had a great time at the Cannes festival, where even Gérard Depardieu, his main interpreter with Victoria Abril and Nastassja Kinski and Victoria Abril, will dissociate himself from the movie. ” We had selected The moon in the gutter in 1983 thinking that there would be a controversy with 50% of the critics for and 50% against. So perfect to create the buzz “, recalled Gilles Jacob, general delegate of the festival at that time, in an interview with Studio CinéLive in 2012. “ The trouble is that in the end there were 95% against. Beineix understood this immediately. And from the press conference, he entered the cabbage of the journalists with the same violence with which they had welcomed his film in projection by whistles and cries of animals “. Years later, Beineix admitted not having played it modest but nothing could spoil the memory of a shoot in the Cinecittà studios, on a set surrounded on the right by that ofThe once upon a time in america of Leone and on the left by that ofAnd sail the ship by Fellini!
His response to his detractors will be flamboyant with 37 ° 2 in the morning, this time adapted from Philippe Djian. Without denying anything The moon in the gutter as he explained to Première in April 1986. “The Moon in the gutter will always remain unassailable, if only because I owe it to him for having 37°2. I reached with The Moon a peak of hysteria and madness. But the two films have the same sincerity, the same spontaneity, the same taste for risk, the same challenge, the same heroism which sometimes borders on bullshit. What has changed is that this time I tried to remove free, to serve a purpose, to remove everything that was not essential. It was asceticism, self-flagellation and, at the same time, a fun exercise. “. Initially, he thought of entrusting the main roles of this passionate love story to Gérard Lanvin and Valérie Kaprisky before, once the script was finished, wanting an unknown person to embody Betty. Dominique Besnehard will introduce her to Béatrice Dalle before pushing for her to make a couple on screen with Jean-Hugues Anglade. The rest belongs to the history of French cinema. Her inaugural love scene which will make so much ink flow, the legendary soundtrack by Gabriel Yared, the birth of an extraordinary actress and a success which will go around the planet.
The proposals will then flow in from the other side of the Atlantic, fromAlien 4 at Avoid for which Madonna is contacting him directly. He will even sign for Bowler hat and leather boots before giving up, following disagreements on the scenario. Beineix will never go to Hollywood and his next three films, the last three will be French. Roselyne and the lions with Isabelle Pasco as a beast trainer in 1989, IP5, the last role of Yves Montand in 1992 and the filthy controversy that followed where, despite Carole Amiel’s denials, the director was accused of having killed the actor and finally the psychoanalytic thriller Deadly transfer in 2001 which marked his reunion with Jean-Hugues Anglade. Three films and three failures. As if the magic had evaporated, as if he was forever tied to a bygone era, aesthetic and whole world.
Beineix will not remain inactive, however. From 1992 to 2012, he made seven documentaries (The Children of Romania, Otaku: son of the virtual empire, le making-of de Guillaumet, The Wings of Courage, Annaud’s IMAX film or even House arrest devoted to Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author of Diving suit and the butterfly, later adapted by Julian Schnabel). We also owe him a comic strip (The deal of the century), a remarkable autobiography, a novel (Toboggan in 2020) as well as the staging of Kiki de Montparnasse at the Théâtre Lucernaire in 2015. So many beautiful escapes which, however, will never have consoled him for not having made a feature film for more than 20 years, after having tried in vain to adapt goodbye up there by Pierre Lemaître before Albert Dupontel and The demon d’Hubert Selby Jr (Last exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a dream) to which he had unsuccessfully purchased the rights. ” We have to face the facts, French cinema does not want me “, he explained to Studio Cinélive in March 2016. “ I did receive proposals for bad remakes but I was still not going to lower myself to this kind of project. The producers forgot me. Or they were afraid that I would vampirize him. And of course I would vampirize the film! That’s what I did from Diva which was a commissioned film. Isn’t it the role of a filmmaker to add his universe ? “Before confessing:” I have suffered so much that over the years I have developed a kind of pathology of failure. Beineix spoke little but true. Without giving himself the gifts he did not give to others. That year, he loved it as a spectator Youth de Paolo Sorrentino et Carol by Todd Haynes. « That there are such directors better than me consoles me for no longer making films. “Since yesterday, they are all lovers of Diva and 37 ° 2 in the morning who are inconsolable.