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Susan Saint James,
Cousin Bette is a poor and lonely seamstress, who, after the death of her prominent and wealthy sister, tries to ingratiate herself into lives of her brother-in-law, Baron Hulot, and her niece, Hortense Hulot. Failing to do so, she instead finds solace and company in a handsome young sculptor she saves from starvation. But the aspiring artist soon finds love in the arms of another woman, Hortense, leaving Bette a bitter spinster. Bette plots to take revenge on the family who turned her away and stole her only love. With the help of famed courtesan Jenny Cadine she slowly destroys the lives of those who have scorned her.Written by
A somewhat sanitised version of the Balzac classic which departs disappointingly from the original story. Jessica Lang is far too pretty a version of the downtrodden, wizened old hag Bette of the original and so conveys none of her deviousness in the many schemes to avenge herself against her condescending relatives. Missing completely from the film is arch-whore Valerie, a central character of the book's plot, who dies a grim death from a disfiguring tropical disease at the conclusion, thus removing an important moral message of the tale. Most of Balzac's other works viz. Madame Bovary, contain one of these. That said, costumes and furniture are fairly faultless which shows Hollywood has at least tried to do justice to a great book.
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