Betty Fisher And Other Stories

Betty Fisher And Other Stories


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

At the centre of this intriguing ensemble thriller is a barely credible act of criminality. When Betty's son dies after a tragic accident, her mother goes off to the poor part of town and snatches a kid about the same age and presents him as a living, breathing replacement. It is the kind of thing people do when a beloved pet is run over, except they go to a shop rather than steal from the streets.

It is to writer/director Claude Miller's credit that such a concept appears plausible. Betty (Sandrine Kiberlain) is traumatised. Her mother (Nicole Garcia) is mad. The kid is adorable. Where's the harm? By the time Betty retains her reason, there are regular TV bulletins about the kidnapping and things have gone too far to change now.

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The movie is based on The Tree Of Hands by Ruth Rendell. The fact that it takes place in France helps in a way because the class element is diffused. The kidnapped boy's mother's partner is black, which provides a racial twist to police enquiries, as if the colour of his skin indicates guilt.

Rendell's involvement, even as source material, ensures a convoluted plot of considerable cleverness. This is not Betty's story alone. There are six, or seven characters involved in the boy's disappearance and their stories interconnect in unexpected ways, creating a narrative collage.

This is a film about assumptions, how the action of one person can be misinterpreted by another with fatal consequences and how life's certainties are as fragile as a wren's egg.

Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2002
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Betty Fisher And Other Stories packshot
Ensemble French thriller about the death of a child and the kidnap of another to replace it.
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Director: Claude Miller

Writer: Claude Miller, based on The Tree Of Hands by Ruth Rendell

Starring: Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Luck Mervil, Edouard Baer, Stephane Freiss, Yves Jacques, Alexis Chatrian

Year: 2001

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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