The Secrets Men Keep!

Before the Siege on Waco  in 1993 and the Oklahoma Bombing of 1995, domestic terrorism was a close kept secret. But since 1978, The UnaBomber had been terrorizing America, practically in secret.

Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas‘s 1988 thriller “Betrayed” was a head of it’s time. Critics of the time Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert ripped the film apart complaining how unfeasible and realistic the plot was. They never met Timothy McVeigh.

The film finds farmhand Katie (Debra Winger) falling for patriarch/cowboy Gary (Tom Berenger). For the first 30 minutes this looks like a heartland love story.

That is until the first twist is dropped. Katie is an FBI agent and Gary is a terrorist and the leader of a Ku Klux Klan sect.

The film is an examination of dual personalities and how the person we think we know the most can actually be a monster.

The emotions, loyalty, confusion and ‘betrayal’ that sets in after the reveal.

“Betrayed” for me is a little seen gem of 1988 mainly because it commented on something before we even saw it coming in real life.

The scenes involving the children reciting trained ‘hate’ rhetoric are shocking and also revealing.

Unlike lots of portrayals of racism on film, “Betrayed” rips off the band aid and then shows us how that world can be so cleverly concealed in the minds of the people in the heartland. The scene with the grain truck is the perfect example.

What other secrets are nestled within the heartland?

The movie has a grounded slow-burn base from director Costa-Gravas and an intense performance from Tom Berenger. It is up to Berenger to not only deliver the hatred but also the flawed humanity beneath. His betrayal has to be just as traumatic as hers.

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Debra Winger holds her own even if in a couple scenes she seems to be treading water. She delivers the goods when it comes time to be heartbreaking. But her constant whining can get tiresome, did we ever hear Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling whine about an assignment?

4 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

-Movie Madness #179-

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