With little persuasion, Jenny is soon sleeping with, then discarding, every man in Paris, setting off a chain of disastrous events that ensnares almost everyone in its web - everyone, that is, except Cousin Bette. Who knew... more » adultery, financial ruin, life - threatening duels and murder could be such fun?« less
Tarra S. (thesaintmom) from PIEDMONT, SC Reviewed on 3/26/2008...
Wow! This was a great movie. You did not know where it was going throughout the whole movie!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kimberley Wilson | VA USA | 09/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cousin Bette should've won Jessica Lange an Oscar nomination. She proved once and for all that she's a serious big league actress. This is a delicious revenge drama. Good old Cousin Bette is a spider who spins a web of death, financial ruin and humiliation for her foolish, selfish relatives. The other notables performance is by Elizabeth Shue who does her best work as Jennie the courtesan. She reminded me of Nicole Kidman as Satine in Moulin Rouge. Bob Hoskins is great as usual and Hugh Laurie does a grand job as the lecherous father. The only thing wrong with this film are the continutity problems and the glaring fact that Jessica Lange is no hag. It makes no sense that no man in the film couldn't see that."
Please - before the 1972 videotape disintegrates!
Lance Drake | Santa Fe, NM United States | 01/26/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Oh PLEASE - whoever has the rights to dub off the original 1972 Masterpiece Theater TV series of 'Cousin Bette' do so and make it available on DVD. This was one of THE finest shows ever created for television. Truly, it totally eclipses the 1998 movie version and now, 40+ years later, I fear it will soon not be physically possible to render this production to DVD. For the sake of one of the theater (and humanity's) most glorious theatrical efforts, PLEASE make the original TV version available! (BTW - I rate the ORIGINAL item at 5+ STARS!)"
Splendid Dark Comedy
R. W. Rasband | Heber City, UT | 06/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jessica Lange has never been scarier than here in this adaptation of Balzac's revenge novel. This is one of those stories, like "I, Claudius", where everyone gets their just desserts in a very entertaining way. You get to watch from a god-like perch as Lange plots the destruction of everyone who ever abused her. Elizabeth Shue is delectable as a Parisian courtesan. And britcom fans will delight in Hugh Laurie's performance as the foolish, lecherous head of the family. This is one of those hidden treasures that you have to seek out, but you will be glad you did."
Confused point of view mars period drama
Matthew Horner | USA | 03/28/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviewers of the theatrical release of Cousin Bette pointed out that the film was not faithful to the novel by Honere de Balzac. I will take their word, as I never read the book. It's just as well. Movies are not really comparable to print media, the novel is in the public domain, and Balzac is long gone.As a film, it is a visual extravaganza. I must admit that, for me, when a movie is impeccably and stylishly photographed, I can enjoy it for that reason alone. None of us know personally what France looked like 150 years ago, but Cousin Bette goes to great lengths to recreate it. The homes and the clothing of the upper class are sumptuous, while slums and their inhabitants are suitably grim and grimy.Jessica Lange remains one of our great actresses. Sadly, she hasn't had a hit picture in over ten years, so many people don't know who she is. As Bette Fisher, she brilliantly portrays a woman whose parents ignored her in favor of her older, more attractive sister. Now a forty year old spinster who is a costumer for a Paris theater, she quietly endures her insensitive, nearly bankrupt family.When her sister dies, her brother-in-law, Baron Hector [Hugh Laurie], presumes that she will move in and play nurse maid to her spoiled niece, Hortense [Kelly McDonald]. Bette refuses and returns to her small and lonely apartment. Soon she saves the life of a suicidal neighbor, a handsome young sculptor named Count Wenceslas [Aden Young]. While helping him to establish himself as an artist, she at last reveals that she is in love with him. What follows is a tale of ruthless, selfish people who take what they want in life. Wenceslas is using Bette. Hortense feels free to woe him away from Bette. Baron Hector feels his friends are meant to loan him money to support his silly and extravagant lifestyle. His best friend Cesar, delightfully play by Bob Hoskins, thinks money will buy him anything, including Hortense. Very prominent in the lives of all the characters is the actress and courtesan Jennie Cadice [Elisabeth Shue].None of these people are prepared for Bette's fury, and it is her devilishly clever revenge that is the heart of the story. Taking her for granted proves to be their undoing.The flaw in Cousin Bette is that first time film director Des McAnuff could not decided whether to make the movie a drama or a dark comedy. It is more of the latter, but the actors play their parts too subtly for laughs. Often the main differences between comedy and drama are how the cast delivers their lines and how they use body language. The script begs to be interpreted either one way or the other. The movie is still enjoyable, but if you find yourself not knowing whether to laugh or cry in many scenes, the problem is not with you."
Balzac's Novel is Superior
E. Dolnack | Atlanta, GA USA | 06/10/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jessica Lang's performance is absoutely stunning! The costumes are exquisite. The locales are unbelievable. The story is complex and pulls you in everytime. The emotions are deep and strong.Why then is this film not a masterpiece? In my opinion, it is because they "modernized" the novel too much and left out some pretty important parts; such as Jenny & Crevel's marriage and contracted diseases at the end of the film. The elderly Hulot is a deaf, bumbling old fool in the film while in the novel he is a stern, disciplined man of high honor and integrity. The entire bare-buttocks routine by Jenny Cadine, as idiotic as it is, is also not a part of the original book.This film held very great potential to be a modern masterpiece; a sort of French equivalent of 1939's "Gone With the Wind", but ends-up being a sort of period-piece/soap opera with a big budget. It fails to be humorous while it also fails to be serious. It lies in-between in a sort of caricatured universe of 2-dimensional cartoon characters, some evil, some wholesome. Seeing the story portrayed this way gave me a brilliant idea: why not have Disney use the story as the setting for their next feature-length animated picture? In that sense, the dumbing-down of this in-depth story makes sense and would work.As it is, I only give this film a marginal thumbs-up mainly for Jessica Lang, who is spectacular here. For her alone, this is indeed an oscar performance of excellence!"