All her life Cousin Bette (Lange) has lived in her sister's shadow. When her sibling dies, she assumes she will become mistress of the house, but when she's merely offered a housekeeping job she plots revenge. Based on Honoré de Balzac's satirical novel set in 1840s France, Cousin Bette makes much of its surroundings, contrasting the lives of the rich with those of the masses on the eve of revolt.
Lange weaves a spell over the proceedings like a malevolent black widow. No-one in the cast can match her, not even Shue as a precocious actress whose scene-stealing trademark is her bottom-revealing costume. But it suffers from not being quite as funny as it thinks it is. A satire without bite.