Nurse Betty ***

DIR: Neil LaBute CAST: Renee Zellweger, Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Aaron Eckhart, Tia Texada, Crispin Glover

LaBute's first two movies came as a breath of fresh air: brutally honest takes on male/female relationships unhindered by political correctness. As with Todd Solondz' "Happiness", "Your Friends and Neighbours" left me thinking 'How is he going to follow this up?".

Well, he's decided to direct somebody else's script, a strange move as his talents seem to be inclined far more towards writing. The result is "Nurse Betty", a movie that seems on the surface like your average comedy, yet with a darkness brimming below. After witnessing the murder of her husband by hitmen Freeman and rock, soap opera obsessed Zellweger enters a state of mind which convinces her she was once engaged to Kinnear's soap character. And so she heads for Hollywood with the killers on her trail.

The dark elements of the movie (Zellweger's lonely miserable life, the gruesome killing) wrestle uncomfortably with the more conventional aspects which aren't particularly original or funny. LaBute seems as though he is trying to appeal to two audiences at once while never taking either aspect far enoung to capture one.