French director Jean-Jacques Beineix, who made waves with stylish works of 1980s cinema including “Diva” and “Betty Blue,” died Thursday at 75.
He died at home in Paris after a long illness, his brother told Le Monde.
Beineix started out as an assistant director to filmmakers including Claude Berri, Rene Clement and Jerry Lewis. After making a short film, he made his feature debut in 1981 with “Diva,” which won the Cesar for best first feature and three more Cesar awards. The story revolves around a young postman infatuated with an American opera singer who gets caught up in an international intrigue when he tries to make a bootleg recording of her performance.
The thriller was one of the most successful French films to play internationally in the 1980s. It ushered in a new style of filmmaking that melded auteur and genre elements, and Luc Besson and Leos Carax also made films that were described as “cinema du look” for their fashion-forward style and bold cinematography.
“Movies that belong to the cinéma du look movement have often been said to value style over substance, but ’Diva’ manages to deliver both, at certain times flaunting its style for style’s sake and at others using the how as a means of truly highlighting the equally important what,” wrote NeoText about “Diva’s” influence.
After the success of “Diva,” his next film “The Moon in the Gutter” with Gerard Depardieu and Nastassia Kinski was eagerly awaited in Cannes in 1983, but the adaptation of the David Goodis novel was booed in its festival premiere and flopped at the box office.
Beneix rebounded in 1986 with the erotically-charged “Betty Blue,” starring Beatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade. It nabbed Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best foreign film, and again proved to be an arthouse hit in the U.S.
His later films failed to make impression outside of France — they included “IP5: The Island of Pachyderms,” which was Yves Montand’s last role, “Mortal Transfer” and documentaries including “Otaku” and “Loft Paradoxe.”
More recently, Beineix turned to writing, authoring a memoir and a novel.