On a Closet-Case Classic: The Big Blue (or I’d Rather Die Than Get Married to Rosanna Arquette)


In which The Gay Recluse reviews a film that needs to come out of the closet.

The “director’s cut” of The Big Blue clocks in at 168 minutes, but don’t be too deterred: you can easily fast-forward through the dull parts and watch it in something closer to 90 minutes or so without losing anything important. The film — a 1988 smash hit in France (where we initially saw it) and a major flop in the United States (where it was re-cut and re-scored in the best of Hollywood traditions) — has some serious eye candy in the form of young Jacques (Jean-Marc Barr), a serene but hot young diver with an obsession for the sea; Enzo (Jean Reno), a grizzled and macho but hot and bearish diver with an obsession for Jacques; and Joanna (Rosanna Arquette), a ditzy but charming (and sorta hot, even to us?) New York City girl who falls for Jacques. There are many, many scenes of the ocean and people — mostly Jacques — swimming with the dolphins, which kind of makes us sad when we think of the dolphins in captivity, where they are often seen. The perfunctory love scenes between Jacques and Joanna also made us sad and are best skipped. For those nostalgic for the 1980s, there’s cheesy synthesized music all over the soundtrack — at its worst it sounds like Kenny G; at its best like Peter Gabriel in his “Sledgehammer” phase — and big (frizzy) hair on Rosanna Arquette (she also wears shoulder pads a lot at the beginning, which is kind of fun.)


On its surface, the movie is about the competition between Jacques and Enzo to see who can dive the deepest. If that’s not gay enough, Joanna shows up and basically evolves from a carefree party-girl who makes us smile into a shrieky ball-and-chain cliché who most assuredly does not. Meanwhile, after about three hours of underwater competitive dives (sanctioned by some international diving society that makes sense only in France), Enzo dies in the arms of Jacques, who then takes him to the bottom of the sea and releases his body into the great beyond. Not long after learning that he has impregnated Joanna, Jacques himself — who wakes up with his ears and nose bleeding — decides that he, too, would rather die than face an entire lifetime with a screaming Joanna. Under the circumstances, we totally understood the impulse.

So there you have it: two hot guys in love — mostly with each other — literally hours and hours of longing for the Schopenhaurian “release” of the sea and — of course — the stereotypical dream-wrecker Rosanna Arquette who wants nothing but a house, car and baby (she actually says this as Jacques swims away at one point, before she emits one of the most impressively grating screams in the history of film asking where he went). Incredibly, the director (Luc Bresson) seems completely unaware that he has made such a closet-case classic; he should probably win an award for making something so hilariously oblivious but still kind of entertaining.

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3 Responses to “On a Closet-Case Classic: The Big Blue (or I’d Rather Die Than Get Married to Rosanna Arquette)”

  1. 1 RM

    I remember seeing this movie as a kid and being very, very bored.

    On the hilariously oblivious front, the movie “Sleepaway Camp” is also award-worthy in its clueless homoeroticism.

  2. Rosanna Arquette has always been an attraction for me. I can’t even say wh
    y- outside of her obvious physical endowments. I could have wished she had a more discriminating agent if she were lacking in professional judgment. I still think she has the chops to do give the viewers an academy worthy performance if the stars are aligned for her.
    [Mind you I don’t believe all the astrology stuff, but you know what I mean.]

  3. 3 MR

    This film is a fantastic weight on the mind. You do it little justice by focusing your tired quips on how annoying Rosanna Arquette is. For potential viewers out there: Watch the full, 2h40 version, as the re-cut is widely regarded as a botched attempt.

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