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  • They say it is the tough times that define us. Today the breakup of a family is something that has touched almost all of us in one way or another. 'Cruel But Necessary' shows how one woman dealt with the disintegration of her marriage and her comfortable suburban life. The marriage breaks up as a result of an inadvertent family video and Betty the protagonist takes this instrument that showed her the cruel truth of her collapsing marriage and embraces it as a way of dealing with the pain.

    Although this plot line sounds dark the movie is very funny. The true art of this movie and the reason you will feel such impact is that is never pulls any punches but you are laughing the whole time. The trajectory of Betty's life seems to be going steadily down. The incidents are genuine and you are irresistibly drawn into the crazy but courageous main character.

    The lead is played by Wendel Meldrum who also wrote the screenplay. Her presence in the film is magnificent. It's not just her beauty and grace but also the range of her characterization. Clearly the director Saul Rubinek knew how to 'light' her to give us the feeling of what she was going through.

    If your life has been really quite nice so far you might not 'get' this movie but if you've seen your share of rough spots this movie will be good for your soul.

    The reason so many of us love the cinema is because every once in a while we get to see a movie like 'Cruel But Necessary'.
  • "Cruel But Necessary" is an original experiment in micro-budget independent film-making. The opening scenes reveal how a suburban housewife called Betty discovers her husband's infidelity due to him accidentally recording a conversation with his mistress on the family video camera. After the couple's separation, Betty continues living at the family home with her monosyllabic teenage son, Darwin. She decides to document her chaotic life with the camera - this video diary comprising her monologues to the camera when alone, and occasions when she conceals it during meetings with friends and family. When Darwin blocks her attempts at communication, she hides the camera in his bedroom. By these means the camera becomes Betty's confidante and partner-in-crime.

    Wendel Meldrum, who plays the central character, conceived the idea and wrote the darkly humorous screenplay. Her portrayal of Betty holds everything together at the center, while Saul Rubinek's direction of an excellent supporting cast complements her fine performance. The DVD comes with a rich selection of interviews and deleted scenes. "Cruel But Necessary" is the best kind of independent film-making - necessary even.
  • 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.
  • carryonpompei21 May 2009
    I don't usually put reviews up on IMDb, and if I did they wouldn't be very good.

    But I'm writing this one because there's only two other reviews here, and I think this film deserves more. The other two reviews are very accurate, but they did make me think that the film might be sentimental, or avant garde

    It's neither, and it's really good. I would guess that Mike Leigh or John Cassavetes fans would like it.

    It didn't make me laugh, but I can see that it perhaps it will the next time I watch it.