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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.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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