Grieving after the death of her young son Joseph, novelist Betty Fisher enters a dark depression. Hoping to bring her out of it, her mother Margot arranges to kidnap another child, Jose, to replace the son Betty lost. Although she knows it's wrong, Betty accepts Jose as her new son. Meanwhile, Jose's mother Carole is looking for her son with the help of her boyfriend Francois and some of his criminal cohorts.
This many-layered screen adaptation of Ruth Rendell's novel "Tree of Hands" skillfully interweaves enough characters and themes to fill three movies. At the center of an elaborate story that widens into an Altmanesque social mosaic (set in the Paris suburbs) stands Sandrine Kiberlain's Betty, a successful high-strung novelist and single mother who loses her young son in a tragic accident. The story moves into high gear when her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Garcia), who is visiting, kidnaps another young boy and brings him home as a replacement, and Betty decides to keep him. — Stephen Holden
2002-09-13 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Alias Betty