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Nurse Betty
Directed by Neil LaBute
Produced by Steve Golin
Written by John C. Richards
Starring Renée Zellweger
Morgan Freeman
Chris Rock
Greg Kinnear
Sung Hi Lee
Music by Rolfe Kent
Cinematography Jean Yves Escoffier
Editing by Joel Plotch
Steven Weisberg
Distributed by USA Films
Release date(s) September 8, 2000
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Gross revenue $29,360,400 [1]

Nurse Betty (2000) is an American black comedy feature film, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Renée Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock and Greg Kinnear. It tells the tale of Betty (Zellweger), a sweet and innocent Kansas waitress who is a fanatic fan of daytime soap opera. Betty loses her grip on reality when she witnesses her no-good husband being scalped by assassins (Freeman and Rock), and starts obsessively pursuing her favourite soap actor George McCord (Greg Kinnear).

For her performance, Zellweger won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.



Betty is a waitress in a diner, who pours coffee behind her back while her eyes are glued to her favorite soap opera A Reason to Love. When she can tear herself away from the screen, she is the kindest, most thoughtful person one could meet, polite and considerate to everyone in her small town. She has no idea that her husband is selling drugs at his car dealership, that he is having an affair with his secretary on his office couch, or that he intends on leaving Betty and taking up with the secretary.

When she calls to leave a message about borrowing a Buick LeSabre for her birthday, her husband gets off his secretary and on the phone to tell Betty to take a different car (the LeSabre has drugs hidden in the trunk).

The two hitmen Betty had unknowingly served at the diner show up at the house with Betty's husband, while she is watching a taped episode of her soap opera. A gruesome scene of torture and death ensues, and the hitmen learn that the drugs are in a car—but not which one. Betty witnesses the murder and experiences a fugue state, escaping the reality of murder into the comforting fantasy of the soap opera. In her mind, she assumes the identity of one of the characters in the daytime drama, a nurse.

That evening, we see the sheriff, a reporter and cops examining the crime scene while Betty calmly packs a suitcase. She seems oblivious to the murder, even with the investigation going on right in her house. At the station, a psychiatrist examines her.

Betty spends the night at her friend's house, sleeping in a child's bedroom with the innocence of a little girl. In the middle of the night, she suddenly gets in her car and drives off. Betty's next stop is a bar in Arizona where the lady bartender talks about her inspiring vacation in Rome, and Betty tells her that she's engaged to a famous surgeon (describing the lead character from A Reason to Love—not the actor who portrays him, but the character himself).

Meanwhile, the two hitmen are trying to find her, as they have finally realized that she must have the car with the drugs. As they search, the older killer begins falling in love with his image of Betty, to the consternation of the younger one.

In Los Angeles, Betty tries to get a job as a nurse while looking for her long-lost "ex-fiance". She is turned down, due to lack of a resume or references, but she blunders into a shootout outside the hospital and saves a patient's life (via skills she has learned from watching years of the soap opera) -- so she is hired anyway ("You will work in the pharmacy, and you're not to touch patients.")

But Betty's gentle touch is just what patients need, and their families appreciate her, and she is invited to stay with Rosa, a Hispanic legal secretary who has had a series of painful love affairs and offers to help Betty find her surgeon friend. (She says "One of us should find happiness, at least.")

However, Rosa learns (from her lawyer boss) that "David" is a soap opera character, and she goes to the pharmacy window to confront her. Betty just thinks her friend is jealous and is impervious to the revelation.

The lawyer has an idea and supplies tickets to a charity function where George (Kinnear), the actor portraying David, will be making an appearance. Betty meets him there. ("Hi." "Do I know you?" "We were engaged." "Huh?") He is inclined to dismiss her as an over-imaginative fan, but something about her compels him to walk back and talk to her some more. On one level, he thinks she is an actress determined to get a part in the soap opera, so he decides to play along. After three hours of her "staying in character," he takes her home.

On another level, he is falling in love with her, but he and his producer decide to bring her onto the show as a new character: Nurse Betty. Only when she gets to the set, she falls out of her fantasy world back into real life. Apparently seeing the inner workings of a television show snaps her back into reality. After two failed takes, when instead of doing some improvisation, she realizes that she is on a set and that the people she thought were real are just actors portraying characters. George confronts her for being a "crazy person", but instead of acting insane she simply walks out.

Now sane, Betty begins to tell Rosa what happened, when the two hitmen come into the house, who are in turn interrupted by a reporter and sheriff from Betty's home town who have also tracked her down. Wesley is shot and killed and is revealed to be Charlie's son. Charlie, rather than being arrested, decides not to kill Betty, and commits suicide in the bathroom. Betty is offered a job on the show by George, and she accepts. She appears in 63 episodes and then takes a holiday in Rome. She is planning on pursuing a nursing degree.




Chelsea FC star Michael Essien was in this film as a passerby extra.


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