Acclaimed theater director Des McAnuff made his feature-film directorial debut with this period comedy-drama adapted from Honore de Balzac's novel La Cousine Bette (1846) about a jealous and bitter spinster who attempts to destroy the romance between her niece and a Polish sculptor. In Paris of the 1840s, spinster Bette Fisher (Jessica Lange) steps in to "take care" of her relatives after a decline in the Hulot family fortunes, mainly due to wastrel Hector Hulot (Hugh Laurie). After penniless sculptor Wenceslas Steinbach (Aden Young) marries Hector's daughter, Hortense (Kelly Macdonald), Bette schemes and plots, drawing Hector's mistress, music-hall star Jenny Cadine (Elisabeth Shue), into her web by arranging for wealthy Cesar Crevel (Bob Hoskins) to become Jenny's benefactor. Filmed at locations in and around Bordeaux. Shown at the 1998 Seattle Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi
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Stick to the old (1971) BBC version: this is a stinker of an interpretation of Honore de Balzac's novel, from casting (Jessica Lange is supposed to be a dried up old spinster, and Hugh Laurie is supposed to be a fat, old libertine), to plot (the Baroness Hulot, a central character important to Bette's revenge, is killed off in the first scene; instead of being a coy upper class lady, Mme Marneff is a torch singer whose specialty is showing off her naked butt), and other unbelieveable, illogical twists), to dialogue, this version is simply awful. Even if you've never read the book, it doesn't make any sense.