Never shy about broaching socially explosive issues, director Costa-Gavras tackles white supremacy and the American militia movement (before they were hip) in this strong 1988 drama starring Debra Winger and Tom Berenger. Berenger stars as Gary Simmons, a Bible-belt farmer suspected of masterminding the execution-style murder of a controversial Jewish radio talk show host. Winger comes to town as a seasonal combine worker and the two fall in love, but when she learns the extent of Gary's militia activities and the impression his world view has made on his two young children she finds it difficult to manage her mixed emotions. There's more to this story, but screenwriter Joe Eszterhas' plotting is delicate and rewarding. It takes a writer with Eszterhas' balls to write a realistic character like Gary, a sympathetic, charming guy with lots of redeeming qualities just don't get him started on the "Jew-boys" or the "nigger police." While Eszterhas became better known in the '90s as a fount of hi-gloss trash like Showgirls and Basic Instinct, Betrayed is filled with compelling shades of gray, perhaps because Costa-Gavras' typically neo-realist approach is the perfect antidote to Eszterhas-like sensationalism. Regardless, the movie is a sturdy and disturbing descent into the dark dissatisfactions of America's rural communities and maintains a high level of integrity until its cheesy ending. Also with a great, heartbreaking supporting performance by John Mahoney, as a gentle, comforting bigot. Presented in both 1.85:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 pan-and-scan, and 2.0 Dolby surround. Trailer, keep case.
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