French director Jean-Jacques Beineix is best-known for making two of the most provocative films of the 1980s, Diva (1982) and 37.2 le matin (Betty Blue, 1986). Dark, haunting, and filled with substantial helpings of violence and/or sex, both films were great successes in France, winning a number of awards and a degree of cinematic immortality for their director.
Born in Paris' 17th arrondissement on October 8, 1946, Beineix took an interest in cinema at a young age. After discovering the medium through repeated viewings of old 16mm films at a local cinema club, he began making 8mm shorts with his friends when he was 16. In 1970, Beineix began his career as an assistant director for Jean-Louis Trintignant and Claude Berri; a few years later, he started writing scripts, and in 1977 he made his directorial debut with Le Chien De Monsieur Michel, a well-received short.
Four years later, Beineix directed his first feature-length film, Diva. A heavily-stylized, labyrinthine thriller revolving around the relationship between a famous opera singer and a young mail carrier, the film won international critical acclaim and a number of Césars, including a Best First Film prize for Beineix.
After making the less celebrated La Lune Dans le Caniveau, a moody romantic drama starring Gérard Depardieu and Natassja Kinski, Beineix scored again with 37.2 le matin, or Betty Blue, as it was known in the U.S. A stylish erotic drama centering on the destructive, obsessive relationship between a handyman (Jean-Hugues Anglade) and a wild and almost constantly naked young woman (Beatrice Dalle), it was one of the most talked-about films of 1986. It earned a number of international accolades, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.
None of Beineix's subsequent work has come close to approximating the critical and popular success of Diva and 37.2 le matin. One of his films, the adventure drama IP5: L'Île aux Pachydermes (1991), had the distinction of being Yves Montand's last project, while Otaku (1994), was an interesting documentary about young Japanese men who prefer the "reality" of cyberspace to that of the outside world. The director's screen work during the 1990s was sporadic, and he concentrated much of his energy on such offscreen projects as his presidency of the ARP (an association for writers, directors, and producers) and his efforts to protect European film from North American cultural hegemony.