It\'s the 1840s and a lonely woman, Bette, has been passed over by her would-be husband in favour of her older sister. Misplaced faith in the friendship of a suicidal young artist compounds matters and Bette\'s desperation for love develops into an obsession.

3.5
This is a film where, if you don`t accept the central performance, then it will hold very little pleasure for you.

Honore de Balzac`s 1846 novel Cousin Bette has been brought to the screen with a major star - Jessica Lange - in the title role. She`s a woman without financial or emotional expectations. But when her cousin - Geraldine Chaplin - dies she believes, no, she expects, that her cousin-in-law, the baron, Hugh Laurie - will marry her. Instead he offers her the role of housekeeper. A bitter blow which she rejects. She returns to her garret, works as seamstress in a theatre, and strikes up a relationship with the artist upstairs - Wenceslas - played by Aden Young. Her hopes of this relationship are thwarted by her spoiled niece Hortense - Kelly McDonald - who takes quite a shine to the budding sculptor herself. Add the impoverishment of the baron`s family - with a vain hope of salvation by banker Crevel - Bob Hoskins, and the opportunity of revenge in the part-time mistress of the Baron - Elizabeth Shue - and it`s quite a rich melodramatic brew we`re presented with...First-time director Des McAnuff, with ample experience on the stage, manages to inject his film with an enjoyable degree of ironic delight. Maybe some people are bored with Jessica Lange yet again portraying a slightly deranged person on screen. I wasn`t. She seethes beautifully. Her machinations are potboilingly entrancing. Bear in mind that this novel was written virtually on the eve of the 1848 revolutions and you find yourself in tune with any force that is going to reverse the fortunes of this selfish bourgeois family. This is a film where, if you don`t accept the central performance, then it will hold very little pleasure for you. It`s an eccentric film in a way, but I found myself entering into the spirit of things quite easily. Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski`s production design and Andrzej Sekula`s cinematography enhance the rich plot.