aka ALIAS BETTY (USA)
Movie Review by Dr Kuma
Cast: Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Luck Mervil, Edouard Baer
Director: Claude Miller
The story: Betty is a successful writer, basing it seems, a lot of her best sellers on her mixed up childhood, where her life was scarred by her over protective and troubled mother. As if learning from her mother’s mistake, she is making sure that her own child, a little boy called Joseph, has the happiest childhood possible. Although time has passed, Betty’s mother seems to have an unprecedented effect on her life and is a bad omen, as the day she arrives to meet Betty, Joseph falls from his bedroom window and dies.
If the mother didn’t have enough effect on Betty’s life, she surpasses herself by abducting a small child (from a bad family she says) and hands it to Betty as a replacement. Of course, after a cool start, things turn around as Betty warms to the child, so that when she tries to return him to his past life, she realises she cannot. This is presented as probably good for the child as we learn that his real mother is verging on prostitution and that the people she surrounds herself with are also on the slippery slope. The various lives and their stories link up in a very Tarantino-esque way at the film’s climax with the situations leading up to one central time and place where the various characters’ paths cross. We also see what happens to them after this point and what different paths they take, some good, some bad.
Although this all sounds very interesting I really found it dragged at the wrong moments. I also found it unbelievable that no one recognised the kidnapped little boy as the one who’d been abducted, when his face was on the TV and in the papers everyday. Doesn’t Betty have any neighbours? If she was just looking after someone’s little boy wouldn’t they think it strange that the boys original parents didn’t return in 6 months? Or the fact that Betty takes the boy to just outside his old flat by mistake! Wouldn’t anyone recognise him? Doesn’t he have any neighbours? Wouldn’t he say or shout that he lived there?
All these loose ends didn’t really tie up and although I didn’t like it, those who don’t feel like smiling today should go and see it. It will be just what you need – to see people with real, although strangely ill conceived problems. Better still, read the Ruth Rendell book it’s based on, Tree of Hands. I won’t!
Dr Kuma’s verdict: A Tree of Hands that blossomed with all of its thumbs pointing down.