Both punk and pouty, “Bye Bye Blondie” casts luscious-lipped Gallic sexpots Beatrice Dalle and Emmanuelle Beart as middle-aged lovers who can’t seem to live with or without each other. French novelist and director Virginie Despentes (“Baise-moi”) loosely adapts her own book, which featured a heterosexual couple. But despite these literary origins, the screenplay feels as if it’s held together by safety pins; narrative momentum is minimal, and flashbacks to the punkettes’ youth are essentially filler. Queer and French events will say hello before it’s off to the discount bins.Despentes’ biggest coup is casting 1980s icons Dalle (“Betty Blue”) and Beart (“Manon of the Spring”), and they easily sell the romance of these reconnected lovers, even without sweaty sex scenes (“Baise-moi” this is not). But the sequences featuring their younger selves as ’80s teen lovebirds (mono-monikered Soko and Beart dead ringer Clara Ponsot, respectively) are inessential and initially disorientating, since production design and editing do so little to distinguish between periods. Coming-out theme, also touched upon but never developed in a storyline involving the Beart character’s marriage-of-convenience with a gay writer (Pascal Greggory), goes nowhere. Music choices are appropriately grungy.
A Happiness Distribution (in France)/Lumiere (in Belgium)/Vega Film (in Switzerland) release of a Red Star Cinema, Frakas Prods., Vega Film production, in association with Master Movies, Wild Bunch, Garance Capital, Tarantula Belgique, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Plus, RTBF, RTS. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Cedric Walter, Sebastien de Fonseca, Jean-Yves Roubin, Ruth Waldburger. Directed, written by Virginie Despentes, based on her novel.
Camera (color, 35mm/Super 8), Helene Louvart; editor, Martine Giordano; music, Varou Jan; production designers, Patrick Dechesne, Alain-Pascal Houssiaux, Laurie Colson, Aurore Benoit; costume designers; Gil Lesage, Judy Shrewsbury. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, March 27, 2012. Running time: 98 MIN.
Beatrice Dalle, Emmanuelle Beart, Pascal Greggory, Soko, Clara Ponsot, Gilles Duarte, Sasha Andres. (French dialogue)