Nurse Betty

A lighter touch than Neil LaBute's might have transformed this black comedy, scripted by first-timers John C. Richards and James Flamberg, into a masterpiece of dark whimsy. Sweet-natured, small-town waitress Betty (Renée Zellweger) is trapped in a miserable marriage to car dealer Del (Aaron Eckhart), who treats her like the village idiot. But while Betty...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A lighter touch than Neil LaBute's might have transformed this black comedy, scripted by first-timers John C. Richards and James Flamberg, into a masterpiece of dark whimsy.

Sweet-natured, small-town waitress Betty (Renée Zellweger) is trapped in a miserable marriage to car dealer Del (Aaron Eckhart), who treats her like the village idiot. But while Betty is blind to his infidelity and hopelessly devoted to hospital soap A Reason to Love, Del's mixed up in a drug scam that brings a quick and brutal comeuppance: He's scalped by volatile hit man Wesley (Chris Rock), whose partner is the calmer but no less lethal Charlie (Morgan Freeman). Betty witnesses the killing and develops a bizarre form of amnesia, forgetting Del's murder and becoming convinced she's a nurse, once engaged to Reason's dishy Dr. Ravell (Greg Kinnear). In a daze, Betty decamps in one of Del's cars — the one with the drugs in the trunk — with an eye to rejoining Ravell in California. Hit men on her trail, Betty blunders first into a job at an L.A. hospital and then into the life of actor George McCord, who plays Dr. Ravell; he and his sharp-tongued producer (Allison Janney) mistake Betty's delusions for an ambitious actress's canny guerilla audition. This uncomfortable hodgepodge of poignant fantasy, showbiz satire and crime thriller seems to have been inspired by the success of FARGO's mix of blood and high-handed hick gags, but under LaBute's direction Betty and the hit men seem to be in different movies, and the way their stories dovetail is less than convincing. Zellweger's Betty is ludicrously naïve and Charlie is that most tedious cliché: the courtly killer; even the dependable Freeman can't make much of him, and is thoroughly upstaged by the foully funny Rock.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A lighter touch than Neil LaBute's might have transformed this black comedy, scripted by first-timers John C. Richards and James Flamberg, into a masterpiece of dark whimsy. Sweet-natured, small-town waitress Betty (Renée Zellweger) is trapped in a misera… (more)

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