Nurse Betty (2000)

Nurse Betty (2000)
  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Neil LaBute
  • Cast: Morgan Freeman, Renée Zellweger, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart


A Kansas City waitress with dreams of becoming a nurse becomes delusional after seeing her no-good car salesman husband murdered. Becoming delusional from shock, she becomes convinced that she is the former fiancée of her soap opera idol. What she also believes is that the soap opera is real and goes to LA to find the hospital where he works as a cardiologist. Meanwhile, her husband’s murderers are searching for the drugs stolen by her husband and, as luck would have it, they are stored in the trunk of the car she drove off in. Freeman, an aging hit man planning his retirement after this job, also becomes delusional about the woman he is tracking.

One comment

  • The best thing about `Nurse Betty’ is that you never quite know where it’s going. Its loose and freeform structure allows the writers, John C. Richards and James Flamberg, to fashion their work from a wide range of disparate moods and styles – and the strain rarely shows. One can question the appropriateness of a particularly gruesome scene early on in the film, but, for the most part, `Nurse Betty’ wins us over with its originality, sweetness and charm. The first element is provided by the screenwriters, but the second two come principally from the film’s star, Renee Zellweger, who, as always, radiates the kind of beauty and vulnerability of spirit that have made her a major star for our time.

    Zellweger plays Betty Sizemore, a waitress working in a café in Kansas, who escapes the grim reality of her marriage to a callous philanderer by blanking herself into her favorite soap opera and fantasizing about her favorite soap opera character, the handsome Dr. David Ravell, played by Greg Kinnear. When Betty witnesses the brutal murder of her husband, she lapses into a state of psychosomatic denial, becoming convinced not only that the world of her TV program is real but that she must travel to Los Angeles to reunite with her former fiancé, Dr. Ravell himself. Thus begins Betty’s bizarre cross-country odyssey, followed closely on her heels by Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock, the men responsible for her husband’s death.

    But the odyssey Betty undergoes is not merely a geographical one – for she also takes a journey deep into the recesses of comic madness. As a result, while there is humor in much of what she goes through, there is also pain – and the writers and the actress hit on both notes perfectly. Thus, while Betty’s confusion about what is real and what is fantasy often leads to comic misunderstandings, it also leads to the kind of fear, misapprehension and insecurity that can accompany irrationality.

    In a similar way, the writers knock us off balance with their conception of the Freeman and Rock characters. Here are men – one a hotheaded, cold-blooded, calculated killer, the other a professional criminal who admits to knocking off those people who `deserve it’ – who come across at times as quietly convincing humorous charmers. `Nurse Betty’ is not always a `comfortable’ comedy.

    With its multitude of characters, settings and tones, `Nurse Betty’ sometimes seems as if it will rip apart at the seams. Yet, thanks to the skilled hand of director Neil LaBute, this never happens. In fact, the film has an expansive, almost epic quality rarely found in a comedy. Not every element in `Nurse Betty’ works equally well, but for its ambition, scope and originality, it is a film well worth checking out.

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