The Betrayed Amanda Gusack

Anyone with cable movie channels will be familiar with a film like The Betrayed, as it's the sort of flick no one really rents or seeks out, rather they stumble upon it at two in the morning when nothing else is on and find that it's a reasonable, if not particularly engaging, way to spend an hour-and-a-half. And since Justine Bateman is getting too old to play the young mother role, Melissa George has wholeheartedly embraced the part of a woman betrayed and held captive, only to fulfil some lazy feminist subtext. The reason for her capture, according to a masked Oded Fehr (because Adam Baldwin is busy with Chuck), is that her husband of 16 years (Christian Campbell, or Neve's brother) secretly embezzled 40 million dollars from a criminal enterprise, when not murdering folks. The generic baddies seem to think that their prisoner can help them unravel the mysterious location of the money by listening to home recordings and threatening violence on her son. It seems that she can, given her keen intellect, impressive lack of hysteria and generalized stupidity in a stressful situation, which is the area where the film excels. Melissa George grounds her character, offers appropriate layering and even manages to deliver some pretty prosaic dialogue with aplomb. Without her acting chops the film would most certainly have been a disaster, as the plot is about as perfunctory as it gets, and everything takes place in a single room with her and a tape recorder. What typically works in claustrophobic films, like Cube and Panic Room, is a sense of spatial geography and the resulting tension, which is woefully missing from The Betrayed, as we never understand the room or the building. Instead, we get Alice Krige overacting, a little Patty Hearst melodrama and a bit of pre-fellatio vomiting. It's watchable but little more than that. No special features are included with the DVD. (MGM)