Or, to give it its French title, 37˚2 le matin. (Which, presumably, should be 37.2˚ le matin. Sorry for being an English pedant.)
Which, apparently, is the normal body temperature for a pregnant woman in the morning.
So what’s it all about? Well, Betty, played by the enigmatic Béatrice Dalle, is as mad as a box of frogs. Why a box of frogs are mad, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because (understandably) they are cooped up in a box. Or maybe it is because the actual concept of frogs in a box is absurd. Why not kittens or dogs? Well, I imagine the former would be quite cute, rather than mad. In fact, I’ve probably seen a video of a box of kittens on YouTube. And a box of dogs would be impractical, as one would need a very large box. Perhaps a ginormous box of elephants would be a better simile? Except, somehow, it’s just not quite as funny as a box of frogs. Monkeys could work.
Whatever the origins of the simile, it does little to rid mental illness of its stigma. So, for that, I apologise. (But, she is.)
Betty and Zorg are young lovers. Laid-back Zorg is perfectly played by Jean-Hughes Anglade. He works as a handyman for a beach shack owner and all is well when Betty first moves in with him. Until she finds his hidden manuscript and can’t understand why he doesn’t want more from life.
She takes matters into her own hands, (after being sexually assaulted by the shack owner), and promptly burns down their house. The pair head off to Paris to stay with a friend where Betty types up Zorg’s ‘masterpiece’ and sends it to publishers. Zorg takes it on himself to hide his rejection letters so’s not to upset Betty. She eventually finds one and takes her revenge on the man who sent it.
They move to an idyllic rural town to run their friend’s piano shop. It’s here that Betty finds out she’s pregnant – much to the delight of them both. It’s not long after that she finds out she has lost the baby, (or isn’t pregnant – I can’t quite recall). But the news breaks her heart and she self-harms in a most horrific way.
As a result of her extreme actions she is catatonic and hospitalised. And that’s about as far as I can take it without spoiling the ending.
It’s a heartbreaking masterpiece of love, mental illness, unfulfilled dreams and what a partner of a person suffering from such an illness will go through to empathise and help care for her.
If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. And if you have, watch it again. (I watched it again this week after almost 30 years and, what it reinforced to me, was the power of loving commitment – no matter what.)
It’s written and directed by Jean-Jaques Beineix and has an inspirational and mesmerising soundtrack by Gabriel Yared. (See clip below.)