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Cruel But Necessary (2005)

 -  Drama  -  7 June 2005 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 62 users  
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Cruel But Necessary is the story of Betty Munson's strange journey of self-discovery and soul-awakening in the traumatic years following the revelation, on videotape, of her husband's ... See full summary »

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Title: Cruel But Necessary (2005)

Cruel But Necessary (2005) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Betty Munson
...
Doug Munson
Luke Humphrey ...
Darwin Munson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kate Albrecht ...
Betty's Assistant
...
Alan
Esther M. Appel ...
Gramma
Ian Axness ...
Paul
...
Umpire
...
Danny
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Laura
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Chad
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Apartment Manager
James O'Connel ...
Teddy
Julie Payne ...
Pearl
...
Alan's Assistant (as Anya Scemama)
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Storyline

Cruel But Necessary is the story of Betty Munson's strange journey of self-discovery and soul-awakening in the traumatic years following the revelation, on videotape, of her husband's infidelity. Her marriage over, struggling to raise her teen-age son alone, Betty becomes driven to discover other secrets that may surround her and so she videotapes every aspect of her life during the gradual disintegration of her comfortable upper middle-class existence. Sometimes used as an eavesdropping device, other times as a confessional, Betty's camera dispassionately records the layers of family and personal dynamics. The film is seen entirely from the viewpoint of Betty's video camera resulting in a "surveillance tape" that is a kind of voyeurism of the absurd. Written by anon.

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7 June 2005 (USA)  »

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This movie was shot over a period of seven months; 45 days of weekend days only. See more »

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Interesting, but what's the point?
8 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The third theatrical film directed by character-actor Saul Rubinek (did he flat-out own TRUE ROMANCE, or what) is a curious thing. Witty, and oddly fascinating, but at the end of the day just too damn esoteric for my taste.

The title refers to a video diary project of sorts that Betty (Wendel Meldrum) puts together to capture private confessions, or as a performance piece, or manipulation technique, or – hell, I couldn't figure it out. She hides her camera everywhere, takes it with her to the gynecologist, to work, on blind dates. Tapes herself talking about Buddhism and how "the inside of the mouth is the same kind of skin as inside the vagina".

Does she really want to know all the stuff she gets about other people, and if so, why? Will she be using the material in some evidentiary way? Is it simply to call attention to the way some people say one thing and turn around and do another, then try and justify it? Or, does Betty just need someone or thing to talk and share her innermost thoughts with, so the digital recorder acts as a therapist? The film never comes clean.

There's a scene at the end where Betty plays her tape to a roomful of people who've unwittingly acted as supporting cast members, and aside from using the word "unconscionable", they mostly remain speechless. At first, CRUEL BUT NECESSARY is funny and intriguing, but by that last scene, you gotta throw your hands up. It's well-acted and written, with Meldrum, our Betty, giving a spot-on, terrific performance. But d*mned if I know what the point was.


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