Betty Fisher And Other Stories [DVD] 
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Betty Fisher (Sandrine Kiberlain) is a successful novelist whose life is struck by tragedy when her only son falls from his bedroom window and later dies in hospital. Sometime later Margot (Nicole Garcia), Betty's mother, sees a young boy playing in the street nearby and brings him home to serve as a replacement son for Betty. The boy's mother, Carole (Mathilde Seigner), then reports the disappearance to the police, helping to set off a chain of events which bind the protagonists together in ways they never expected. Adapted from a novel by Ruth Rendell.
With Betty Fisher and Other Stories, writer-director Claude Miller follows the examples of Claude Chabrol and Pedro Almodóvar in adapting a Ruth Rendell novel to the screen. In this case the original novel, The Tree of Hands, has been translated seamlessly and stylishly to a Parisian setting. The plot interweaves a complexity of characters and stories, but the central thread concerns the eponymous Betty, a novelist whose young son dies while her disturbed mother Margot is staying with her. Margot, with terrifying directness, calmly abducts another child of similar age to replace the dead boy. From this loopy act there stems a whole series of consequences and side-effects involving a widening and socially diverse circle of people across the city.
Miller lucidly traces his way through the intricate story with cool, ironic humour and a sure touch for the different social milieus. Once or twice the plot strains credulity--bringing three major characters together by chance for the showdown at Charles de Gaulle airport is just a little too convenient--but most of the time the social and emotional cross-currents are deftly navigated. As Betty, Sandrine Kiberlain gives an almost painfully vulnerable performance, as if she lacks several layers of skin, while Nicole Garcia makes her mother Margot into a monster of overriding, self-pitying egomania. Their scenes together carry the weight of a whole lifetime of ill-suppressed mutual aversion. As with Rendell's novels, it's endlessly fascinating to watch these people, but you feel very glad you dont know them. --Philip KempSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The stories come together at Orly Air Port in a violent confrontation which leaves these people and their stories getting what they deserve. Which means some die, some flee and some get on an airplane for Singapore.
The director, Claude Miller, does two things very well. He not only involves us with all these stories, he gives them all an overlay of uneasy tension. Especially with Brigitte, her mother and the stolen boy, there is an edgy dread that quickly establishes itself. It eases up only when we realize the boy will survive, but there still is the question of what will happen to him. Miller also gives us some strong characters to get involved with, even if we don't like them too much. There's no flashy acting moments, just the steady building of information about these people, which Miller lets us discover for ourselves. The actors, in my view, all do fine jobs. Sandrine Kiberlain carries the movie and she handles her character with depth and skill. Nicole Garcia, who plays Brigitte's mother, makes us nervous whenever we see her. Just how unstable is Margot Fisher? The story, by the way, is from one of Ruth Rendell's psychological thrillers.
This is a movie which keeps something of a cool distance from the many goings on. I don't think this is a fault. It helps us examine Brigitte's evolving feelings and helps us make choices about the characters. I'd be surprised if any viewer doesn't finally agree with Brigitte's choice.
Alias Betty looks and sounds fine. There are a few extras, including a "Making of..." feature and filmographies of the director and lead characters.
Betty Fisher And Other Stories is a film I had wanted to see for quite some time, if for no other reason that Mathilde Seigner is one of the actresses in it. I hadn’t up until now watched it because, as someone who avoids watching British television dramas, and seeing that it was based on a Ruth Rendell story (and my apologies to Ms Rendell and any of her fans) I couldn’t get past the clichéd image of Yet-Another-Murder-Mystery-British-Television-On-A-Saturday-Night.
But this isn’t British television – it is French Cinema.
It was so long since I had seen a synopsis for the film that I had forgotten what it was about, and it was all the more enjoyable because of that. The plot is superb and reveals itself slowly and to great affect, and with a wonderful cast – Mathilde Seigner, Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Roschdy Zem are just some of the cast the whole of which do an incredible job. The way the film has been written and edited have also been something that has made this film so good. It is a very believable story – Claude Miller, the cast and crew (and Ruth Rendell) really deserve all the praise they get.
In 2001 the Silver Hugo Award, which is presented at the Chicago International Film Festival in recognition of actresses who have delivered an outstanding performance, went to two actresses, Nicole Garcia and Sandrine Kiberlain, for their performances in Betty Fisher.
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