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Betty

This is Chabrol’s second adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel, after 1982’s marvellous Les Fantismes du chapelier. The director is perfectly attuned to Simenon’s dark world view and turns Betty into another of his tales about the consequences of a lack of tenderness in society. The film takes its place alongside Les bonnes Femmes, Violette Noziere and La Ceremonie as one of Chabrol’s sympathetic studies of women struggling to make their way in a corrupt and corrupting world. Betty (Marie Trintignant) is a young woman lost in a big city, a desperate and lonely being whose only game is playing with alcohol. Betty’s sad story of betrayal and self-destruction is told in flashbacks after she is befriended by Laura (Stephane Audran), a recently widowed middle-aged woman who hangs out at The Hole, a bar owned by her lover. Soon the two women’s relationship raises questions as to whether a new life can be obtained, a new identity borrowed or even stolen from another. There are echoes of Les Biches, and the shape of another dysfunctional family can be discerned in Chabrol’s familiar trinity of characters.

France, 1992.
English subtitles.
Colour.
100 min.

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