Director: Neil LaBute
Year Released: 2000
There's a chunk in the middle of Nurse Betty that is so absolutely wonderful that every single other piece of it fails in comparison, and it starts the moment Betty (played by Renee Zellweger) meets the man-of-her-dreams, a TV actor (played well by Greg Kinnear) and proceeds to speak with him as if he's the character he plays on TV (actually thinking he's the character) and wowing him with her performing the lines from the show he's on. And the process in the middle, leading delusional Betty through her fantasy to disillusionment when she sees the world she imagined as being fake and plastic is startling. If I could take that piece of film out and trash the rest, we're talking one of the best pictures of the year. But sadly, I can't do that, and "the rest" - which covers what I consider "bad territory:" more stolen drugs, more loquacious hitmen, Pulp Fictionesque conversations about bacon, cursing, disturbing violence, Aaron Eckhart's throwaway character, puzzling psychological nonsense and icky black humor. The beginning and end of Nurse Betty spoil a potent middle, with Zellweger and her cupie-doll appearance making the scenario all the more innocuous and sympathetic. How the film "slips" into what I'll call "dream-mode" is questionable, as is LaBute's handling of touchy material, which clumsily changes tone. Something needs to be said about Morgan Freeman's performance, which is layered and intriguing. All he needed to do was shoot an irritating Chris Rock (armed with more bad one-liners - what, were there some left over from Dogma?), kidnap Betty and ride to Florida.