Movie Information

Genre: Drama
Director: David Hugh Jones
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Patricia Hodge, Ben Kingsley, Avril Elgar
Rated: R

David Hugh Jones was the third filmmaker to graduate from the BBC’s Monitor series — following (though less successfully) in the footsteps of John Schlesinger and Ken Russell. Though Jones’ forays into theatrical filmmaking have been limited, they’ve also tended to be of a literary nature and a pretty high caliber. Betrayal (1983)is an excellent case in point; it’s an intelligently filmed version of Harold Pinter’s play (rewritten for the screen by Pinter). Jones’ respect for the material is evident, and he handles the film in a manner that only enhances it.

It’s a tricky work, in that the action works backwards, with each successive scene occurring at an earlier time — an approach first attempted in the 1930s by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart with Merrily We Roll Along.

The device here isn’t arbitrary: Pinter uses it in this anatomy of an affair to add weight to an essentially rather thin story. Knowing the outcome affords the earlier scenes a deeply melancholy resonance, even at the lightest moments. Literate dialogue and stunning performances by Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley (with hair) and Patricia Hodge — along with Jones’ sensitive direction — make it a shattering experience.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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