“37°2 in the morning” broadcast this evening on Arte in tribute to Jean-Jacques Beineix, allowed the hatching of Béatrice Dalle, who landed an iconic role. How was she spotted? Back to a revelation.
Béatrice Dalle’s debut on the big screen was made possible thanks to… the power of a single photo! Before becoming the unforgettable Betty of 37°2 in the morning, broadcast this evening on Arte, in tribute to the recent death of Jean-Jacques Beineix, Béatrice Dalle had never made a film before, but she had lent herself to a photo session, which therefore changed his destiny.
In the book winter casino, agent and casting director Dominique Besnehard, in charge of casting the film by Jean Jacques Beineix, recounts this memorable moment in his career. He says he noticeda strange, singular, disturbing photo of a young girl who looked very beautiful but made an hallucinating face. All you could see was his huge, almost carnivorous mouth. The young woman had been noticed on the Champs-Elysées by a photographer who was doing a report on the Lolita of the 1980s. This face was incredible. He literally obsessed me. I even hung this picture above my desk.“
Béatrice Dalle: “I’m only told about 37.2 in the morning, I think I could only have done that one!”
This photo was the cover of a magazine, “Photo”. Dominique Besnehard did everything to get in touch with the young woman, but, as Béatrice Dalle reminds us, in the columns of the Parisian this morning, this first approach was electric! “He called me. He thought everyone wanted to make movies, but I didn’t give a damn: I lived in squats, I didn’t know any actors. I didn’t find him friendly, I hung up on him. He called me back and came to get me in my squat! We had a coffee in front of the Comédie-Française, he told me about 37°2… Then we went to a bookstore: when he saw me, the guy at the checkout said: “She looks like the heroine of Philippe Djian’s book (37°2 in the morning) !“
The actress adds:The film completely changed my life. I went from great teenager to icon of the 1986 Cannes Film Festival. To see the rise of the steps of the girl from 37°2, buses had been sent from Bordeaux or Strasbourg. At the closing dinner, the cake was even called Béatrice Dalle.“
The director Jean-Jacques Beineix wanted at all costs an unknown actress for the first role of his film, unlike the first producer (Anne-Marie Rassam) who wanted to bet on a known face, in this case Isabelle Adjani. In a program broadcast on France 2, at the time of the 20th anniversary of the film, Beineix returned to this period: “I wanted a stranger. Point. But, I was told, when are you going to find her? And then she arrived. I was given this photo and I said this photo is the poster of the film”. In a bonus made for the 20th anniversary DVD edition, he specifies: “There were strangers in Diva (great surprise success directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, editor’s note.). We cannot say that it had been a disadvantage for the success of the film. I thought that for 37°2, we had to follow exactly the same path.”
37°2, Elle… Philippe Djian’s film adaptations
37°2 in the morning is Jean-Jacques Beineix’s greatest success. Over 3.6 million viewers flocked to theaters when the film was first released on April 9, 1986 (the film was later re-released on June 27, 1991). The film also had a certain impact abroad and was notably nominated for the Oscar for best foreign film.
In an attempt to explain the success a posteriori, Jean-Jacques Beineix put forward the following arguments: “It’s a love story, a great love story. She was embodied by people who had a grace. If we look at Betty, she’s a rebel. The 20-year-old Bettys today are even more revolted. There was something of the modernity of our time. And then it was Romeo and Juliet. But at the same time, it was better for it to end badly than to live a mediocre life. I feel like all over the world there are people who have had that feeling.”
Writer Philippe Djian remembers the success and criticism of 37°2 le matin