Besson’s “The Big Blue” is not a film about freediving

Besson’s “The Big Blue” is not a film about freediving

Jean-Marc Barr’s Jacques in “Le Grand Bleu” is like Camus’s “Etranger” in a diving suit.

No, “The Big Blue” is not a film about freediving, nor about people with a passion for dolphins, nor about a competition between two freedivers, one loud-mouthed and boastful (Jean Reno) and the other self-effacing (Jean-Marc Barr).

It’s a film about people who are so screwed up in their own world that they feel nothing. A sort of “Etranger” produced by Gaumont, even though Camus published his novel with Gallimard. Maillol is like Meursault. He’s just a guy who’s completely out of his depth (white Adidas, which he even wears with a tuxedo) and Joanna (Rosanna Arquette) “just” has the crazy idea of wanting to couple up with him.

The episode in which he shows her a photo of a dolphin in his wallet, telling her “this is my family” before sobbing like a child, hasn’t opened her eyes. She wants her story with him, she’s determined to do it, even if Enzo Molinari, who has since given up on flirting with her, tries to unsettle her beautiful almond-shaped eyes. It’s after the love scene, when Maillol has spent the whole night in the water with the dolphins, that she says to herself (finally! says the viewer) “I’m going back to New York” and begins to have serious doubts: hasn’t she chosen the wrong horse?

The scene is quite expressive, and it’s a pity that Besson’s commercial success means that no one emphasizes his talents any more. But Besson knows how to set the scene: in this case, Barr is on his back, looking up like a fried whiting, while the beautiful American blonde straddles him and leads the dance. For in this carnal act, Barr does nothing, absent from himself, his body, his desire, his joy. In short, watch “Le Grand Bleu” for what it is: Camus’s “Etranger” (he too had a girlfriend and likes to swim) but without the guillotine and with dolphins.

Jean-Marc Grosdemouge