Cousin Bette (1998)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Cousin Bette Videos

Cousin Bette Photos

Movie Info

Acclaimed theater director Des McAnuff made his feature-film directorial debut with this period comedy-drama adapted from Honore de Balzac's novel La Cousine Bette (1846) about a jealous and bitter spinster who attempts to destroy the romance between her niece and a Polish sculptor. In Paris of the 1840s, spinster Bette Fisher (Jessica Lange) steps in to "take care" of her relatives after a decline in the Hulot family fortunes, mainly due to wastrel Hector Hulot (Hugh Laurie). After penniless sculptor Wenceslas Steinbach (Aden Young) marries Hector's daughter, Hortense (Kelly Macdonald), Bette schemes and plots, drawing Hector's mistress, music-hall star Jenny Cadine (Elisabeth Shue), into her web by arranging for wealthy Cesar Crevel (Bob Hoskins) to become Jenny's benefactor. Filmed at locations in and around Bordeaux. Shown at the 1998 Seattle Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi
R (sex)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Watch it now


Jessica Lange
as Bette Fisher
Elisabeth Shue
as Jenny Cadine
Bob Hoskins
as Crevel
Hugh Laurie
as Hector Hulot
Laura Fraser
as Mariette
Toby Stephens
as Victorin
Kelly Macdonald
as Hortense Hulot
Janie Hargreaves
as Celestine
Aden Young
as Wenceslas
Jefferson Mays
as Seidmann
John Benfield
as Dr. Bianchon
Paul Bandey
as Priest
Gillian Martell
as Portress
John Sessions
as Musical Director
Henrik Wagner
as Baritone
John Quentin
as Elderly Aristocrat
Tim Barlow
as De Forzheim
Philip Jackson
as De Wissembourg
Toby Jones
as Gentleman in Cafe des Artistes
Kenneth Jay
as Gentleman in Cafe des Artistes
Simon McBurney
as Vauvinet
Geoffrey Carey
as Duelmaster
Dermot Keaney
as Chief Gendarme
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Cousin Bette

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6)

Plays more like a crinolined episode of 'Dynasty.'

Full Review… | January 8, 2007
Film Journal International

Disappointing black comedy, based on Balzac's novel

June 12, 2005

A revenge drama, with Lange's Bette pulling the strings.

Full Review… | July 1, 2004
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Quote not available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Quote not available.

Full Review… | April 8, 2005
Reeling Reviews

Quote not available.

January 7, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Cousin Bette

Jessica Lange plays a family's dowdy ugly duckling, given the short shrift habitually, who's as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore in this flighty costumer that promises more than it delivers. Revenge, served at room temperature.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Cousin Bette" starts in 1846 in Paris where Bette(Jessica Lange) declines an offer following the death of her sister(Geraldine Chaplin) to serve in the widow's(Hugh Laurie) household. Instead, she makes ends meet barely in a variety of tasks including making costumes for the theatre. Despite that, she still visits with them frequently, especially young Hortense(Kelly Macdonald) who is set to be married off. At the advanced age of 40, Bette is also unmarried, hoping one day that her prince will come. He does sort of when a broke Polish sculptor, Wenceslas(Aden Young), attempts to kill himself and she nurses him back to health.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Cousin Bette" is proof that a very good cast is no guarantee for a movie's quality, especially with miscasting as egregious as it is here. To start, it is hard to buy Jessica Lange as plain and unassuming. And Hugh Laurie is simply much too young for his part. These are the least of the flaws on display which include insufficient character development, broad caricatures and lackadaisical direction. The fragmented narrative which never truly comes together feels like there is quite a bit missing. All of which is a shame because there are some very witty moments and an intriguing setting on the cusp of the 1848 revolutions which rocked the French monarchy once and for all.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Leo L
Leo L

Super Reviewer

Cousin Bette Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Cousin Bette on our Movie forum!

News & Features