Claude Chabrol had one problem – he made too much films and, because of that, somehow quantity began to dominate over quality. Claude Chabrol made masterpieces («Violette Noziere»), good films («Poulet au vinaigre») and mediocrities («La fleur du mal»). In what category you could place «Betty» - the last film of Chabrol with Stephane Audran?
In some Paris bar, a girl called Betty, who is wearing a rumpled Chanel suit, is drinking herself to death with whiskey. Some strange man, who calls himself a doctor, offers Betty a ride to a restaurant called Le Trou (The Hole). In this bar, Betty drinks even more, and meets a proprietor Mario and his lover Laure. Betty tells Laura that she was divorced with a son of a very rich and influential family.
At first, the film starts as a typical story about a poor peasant girl, who is thrown out by the spoiled prince. Claude Chabrol shows us a sad alcoholic and abandoned girl with harsh psychological childhood traumas – an ideal candidate for the couch at psychoanalyst’s office. And this family of rich bastards, who made Betty to waive her parental rights, is out to be guillotined as in the late XVIIIth century France.
There is a banal saying about incompatibility of people from the different parts of the society (classes, groups and etc.), that is why a dream of «marrying the prince» doesn’t always realized as wanted. Betty was able to jump above her head, but she an intruder in the world of aristocracy. She cannot live on the rules of the high society, family doesn’t quite accept Betty and she is even basically separated from the children, who are given to the maid.
Disorderly Betty is suffocated in such sterile atmosphere and she is thrown out as an alien element. After Betty enters Le Trou, full of desolate people, the Director starts adding extra colors to her portrait. Because of that, the viewer could get a quite different opinion about a poor peasant girl.
What could you say about real qualities of Betty? In order to answer that, you ought to watch «Betty» and break the cliché that the nature relaxes on the children of the talented (on example of Marie Trintignant). Because of the duo of Marie Trintignant and Stephane Audran, Claude Chabrol was able to shoot a great film with unpredictable ending, which is quite a match to «Violette Noziere».