A wife on the run is reminiscent of Thelma & Louise, the film that discovered Brad Pitt and gave women hope beyond slavery.

Nurse Betty is a romantic comedy that cuts up cliches and scatters them across the mid West. She is an abused wife, working as a waitress in a small Kansas town, who is infatuated with Dr David Ravell (Greg Kinnear). When her dirty rat husband (Aaron Eckhart) is murdered in the coldest blood by a couple of debt collectors from the Mob (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock), her consciousness flips and she drives to California in search of her one true love.

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Dr David isn't real. He's the hero of an afternoon soap opera. Betty won't hear of it, of course. In her beautiful, bruised mind she is his fiancee and, although she has never been out of Kansas in her life, is off to LA to be with him.

Most lightweight comedies would be content to ride on this delightful concept and milk it dry. What Neil LaBute's first mainstream movie does - his reputation for cruel misogynistic black humour is based on self-penned indy cult hits, In The Company Of Men and Your Friends And Neighbours - is to surprise his audience. Just when you think you have the measure of the plot and are second guessing Betty's next move something happens to knock you sideways.

The Mob heavies who follow Betty have their own peculiar eccentricities, which might be considered generational, the older one falling under the spell of her innate sweetness, the younger irritated by the absurdity of their situation.

Freeman and Rock make a great double act and Renee Zellweger, as Betty, has a quality of innocence that shines like gold.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A waitress becomes obsessed with chasing her soap opera dreams after witnessing her husband's murder.
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Trinity ****

Director: Neil LaBute

Writer: John C Richards, James Flamberg

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Renée Zellweger, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart, Tia Texada, Crispin Glover, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Allison Janney, Kathleen Wilhoite, Elizabeth Mitchell

Year: 1999

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2000

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