Betty | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In Claude Chabrol's new film Betty nothing is simple, nothing quite what it seems. Betty (Marie Trintignant), whose husband has recently thrown her out after finding her with another man, wanders aimlessly, alone and drunk. An older woman (Stephane Audran) takes her in and cares for her, and gradually Betty tells her story, which we see in fragmentary flashbacks as she tries to piece it together in her mind. Chabrol, one of the original French New Wave directors of the late 1950s, masterfully intercuts the various pieces of Betty's life to show how each one affects every other. As the relationship between the two women develops into a complex and ambiguous emotional interdependency, Chabrol's camera moves in, pulls out, and dollies around them, linking them in shifting ways to each other and to the surroundings. Early on a conversation is filmed in front of a huge fish tank; near the end Betty is seen behind the same tank. Such moments combine with the camera work to present characters not as free and autonomous agents, but as beings whose actions and very existence are constantly being redefined in unpredictable ways by their environment. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, October 1 through 7.

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