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Midlands Film Review - Betty

By midlandsmovies, May 7 2017 08:09PM

Betty (2017)

Dir. Jordan Handford

Betty is the latest short film from Leicester-based director Jordan Handford, and takes a look at an illness that unfortunately impacts the lives of so many people.

The short takes covers a conversation that takes place between Eric (John Ghent) and Betty (Christine Hall), a husband and wife who have been together for years. It is clear to see that Betty suffers from dementia, and that with each day that passes Eric loses more of his companion to the devastating condition. The idea came to Handford following his own personal experiences with the illness and discovering the true extent of just how devastating it can be, especially when it takes hold of loved ones.

A heartbreaking reality is portrayed here, and the film will hit very close to home for so many people. However, the stand out feature of this film is the fact that it doesn't take a depressive approach to the matter. There is no escaping the fact that the topic of the film is pretty heavy, but it is delivered in a way that feels a lot lighter than it is, with the undertones of major sadness hitting you just as the film ends, as opposed to lingering with you throughout the whole film.

The performances are what make this short so wonderful. John Ghent was very good as Eric. He conveyed the sadness of the situation so well, but left it to you to read between the lines to find that sadness. It wasn't flashed in your face at all, showing what is often the reality with those left to care for their relatives. Likewise, Christine Hall was equally as brilliant. It wasn't obvious that she was a sufferer of dementia, and when it came to the fore that she was ill, I felt that it was done very tastefully.

There was a real authenticity surrounding her character, and I think this came down the very small details of her performance. The empty gazes she held for a few considerable durations, and the variations in the temperament of her character pulled the performance together completely.

There wasn't so much a storyline to this short, which I personally think was a good thing. To attempt to portray the whole timeline of Betty's illness in the film would have been impossible without including huge time gaps. I feel as though that would have made the film very disjointed.

The one long take of just this conversation allowed the film to flow nicely and let me just settle in and watch that one thing, as opposed to just getting my bearings with one shot and then moving onto another. I think it also worked very well in the film's favour to act as a snapshot of these people's lives. It was very much like a passing acquaintance with these two people, something that was overheard during a visit to the park when they were also there, leaving you to create your own story around the snippet of conversation you caught.

On the whole, I have to say that I liked Betty very much. Handford's personal attachment to the film's subject really shone through, and the way the whole thing has been put together did it immense justice. The two actors did a great job with the dialogue they were given, which really added bucket-loads to what had already been poured into the film. I'd definitely recommend that anyone who has five minutes and access to this short use the two wisely - it will absolutely be worth it.

Kira Comerford

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