Nurse Betty review

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Nurse Betty is a somewhat unexpected choice for director Neil LaBute, whose previous features were the chillingly pessimistic view of the corporate male, In The Company Of Men, and the misanthropic chamber piece Your Friends & Neighbors. Not only is this the first film that he hasn't written himself, it's also the first which, in the sweetly naïve Betty, has anything like a wholly sympathetic character. But fans of LaBute's deliciously malicious vision won't be disappointed with this entertaining, offbeat black comedy.

Initially, the script's use of Betty's semi-amnesiac, alternative reality smacks of preposterous plot device, but it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. The condition, called a fugue, is a rare but documented psychological reaction to an extreme trauma, and it's evident that both LaBute and screenwriters John C Richards and James Flamberg have done their homework on it.

LaBute also successfully toys with ideas of skewed perceptions and of the lure of celebrity, and the people Betty meets along the way create their own realities to explain her. To Charlie (Morgan Freeman), she's an intriguing criminal mastermind about who he begins to obsess (the least believable aspect of the narrative); to George McCord (Greg Kinnear), the actor who plays Dr David Ravell, she's a remarkably tenacious aspiring actress. The slightly bland Renée Zellweger is perfect as the embodiment of `nice' and the blank canvas onto which people project their own interpretations.

Comedian Chris Rock is also unexpectedly good as Wesley, giving a controlled performance rather than the hamming of his last film, Dogma. And LaBute, released from the theatrical interiors of his last two pictures, uses the dramatic landscapes of middle America to great effect, creating his most cinematic work to date.

More info

Available platformsMovie

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.