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Movie Review: Alias Betty (Betty Fisher and Other Stories)

Story: Another terrific film about dysfunctional families - but this time the action takes place in France. (It is nice to know that the US does not have a patent on dysfunction, isn't it?) The film is deftly directed by Claude Chabrol and was adapted from the Ruth Rendell novel Tree of Hands.

The opening scene take place on a speeding train which turns out to be a clue for the audience to get ready for the pace of this very fast, very busy film. There are some dozen main characters whose lives eventually intersect. How we get to that point is the beauty of the film.

The film is about mothers. Some of the mothers depicted here give Mommy Dearest a run for her money. The fallout from bad motherhood is shown across the socioeconomic board. It is both comforting and appalling to see so vividly that no social class has a monopoly on bad motherhood.

It is another episodic film, broken into chapters that works well. It is a morality tale - French style. You find yourself rooting for the lesser of the criminals and wrong doings. If you can possibly leave your own American sense of morality outside the theater I think you might enjoy this very fine film.

Acting: A fine cast filled with French actors.

Critters: A bird

Food: You would think there would be more food since it is a French film. It was moving at such a fast pace perhaps there was no leisure time to eat. However, there was plenty of time to smoke and drink.

Visual Art: The main character lives in an empty household - practically devoid of artifacts and furniture.

Blatant Product Placement: Lots of French stuff.

Soundtrack: I don't remember. I was too busy reading the subtitles.

Opening Titles: Very well done interspersed during the speeding train sequence.

Theater Audience: A small group of foreign film devotees. I went with three other folks and we separated to sit in the area of the theater where we were each most comfortable sitting. Perhaps we looked wacky to the other theater goers.

Quirky Meter: 4

Squirm Scale: 2 - some bad stuff happens to kids.

Predictability Level: I had no idea what was going to happen.

Oscar Worthy: Why not?

Nit Picking: No French nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: I suppose rental would be fine. For other films about moms, how about renting the aforementioned, wonderful Mommy Dearest, All About My Mother, or Y Tu Mama, Tambien.

Length: Under the 2 hour LOBO rule.