“I want you to do whatever makes you happy, that’s it.” If only life were that easy, right? If only people actually knew what it was that made them happy. Joel and Candace are headed for troubled times right from the get-go in “Betray.” Joel has just busted up his knee for the third and what seems like the final time, which has essentially taken his dream of playing ball professionally away forever. While he’s busy coming to terms with that, he seems to be ignoring the needs of his wife Candace, which opens up the wrong door of opportunity for her to start looking elsewhere for the attention she’s seeking out. Enter Deon, who is very clearly bad news. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Deon’s a bad guy necessarily – he’s just what you’d call a ‘typical man’ doin’ what ‘typical men’ tend to do. Candace is hot as hell, and he’s not made of stone if you catch my drift.
To be honest, no one in this movie seems to really be a bad person; they’re just all distracted from what’s important to them, and distractions can certainly be a bad thing when it comes to the art of relationships. With the distance between Joel and Candace, you almost can’t blame them for potentially looking elsewhere to find the happiness they deserve. You might have even been in this situation at one point in life, or you might very well know someone else who has. These are relatable characters going through a relatable situation that almost inevitably comes up in everyone’s life, which ends up being both an advantage and a disadvantage when it comes to “Betray.” The bonds of friendship and morals are tested in this movie.
On the one hand, it’s always helpful to an audience of people watching if they can step into a character’s shoes and have an understanding of where they’re coming from. Whether it’s Joel, Deon, Candace, or her friend Stephanie – chances are, you’ll find someone in this film that you can relate to, if not several of them. Obviously, that plays to the advantage of “Betray.” If anything, it’s the fact that this storyline is so familiar - and would be to so many people out there watching this movie, that it’s kind of like an extension of life itself and a little bit on the normal side. Don’t get me wrong – I would hope that not everyone out there could relate to this complex world of characters trying to navigate their way through their relationships and connect with what matters most – but as a Generation X’er - and being a child of multiple divorces, I’ve personally seen this movie in real life play out many times. That’s my experience, though – and I don’t really expect that to be shared amongst everyone watching.
Having said that, we’re watching a very slow-moving emotional train wreck that I feel like we can all see coming, and I felt like “Betray” takes a significant amount of time to get to where it’s eventually going. Writer/Director Jaron Lockridge does a solid job in telling this story, but he undeniably takes his time in doing that. The details are all there, the characters are well crafted, and the cast is good – but as we tick closer to the first hour and not too much has really moved forward in terms of what we assume is going to happen, I would totally understand if some folks out there started to feel restless. You’re in for a Drama with “Betray” & that’s important to keep in mind in a world filled with fast-paced Action flicks.
And so you must ask yourself…would you invite trouble through your door? What if you were about to spend your birthday alone – would that be enough for you to break? Maybe not in that single instance alone, but what about if you felt like you were being constantly ignored and the attention you were looking for just randomly showed up? Could you “Betray” your best friend or your spouse in a situation such as this? This film pretty much demands that you take a look at all that because it is so relatable and familiar, and YOU could be in this situation next. Can you blame anyone for feeling the way that they do? What justifies the actions we’re willing to take when it comes to relationships – who sets the rules and decides what’s okay?
I found myself being able to look at this scenario through each character’s own unique perspective. I sympathize with Candace, and I understand Joel. Heck – I’ve probably even been Deon at some point along the way. Our impulses are tough things to control – and at the end of the day, are we even supposed to control them? Shouldn’t we experience everything we can in life & love? Are we expected to be completely infallible and to never make mistakes? Is it possible to make mistakes & become stronger as people in our relationships, assuming that we learn some kind of lesson from them? Not every line we walk in life is going to be a straight one from point A to point B, and ain’t none of us perfect, right? We all make mistakes of some kind…ultimately, shouldn’t we have the opportunity to learn from’em…to grow, evolve, and become better without it costing us everything in the process?
Relationships always have two sides to every story, and it takes work to keep them that way. How much damage can they potentially withstand before they break apart forever? Is there anything you can think of that is really worth the risk of losing the person you love the most in life? Where is the line between being consciously protective & being overly jealous or untrusting? “Betray” is a reminder about the work that needs to be put in daily to ensure the mechanics of relationships don’t break down. How well do you know the person you sleep beside at night? How much are you capable of trusting?
So, let’s see here. I feel like “Betray” deserves a solid four stars out of five because there’s really not much that has been overlooked here at all. I do think it’s fair to say that “Betray” moves really slow at times and that it might lose a few folks out there watching as a result of that, but I also felt like the characters were so real and so well-played by the cast that this movie earns your attention. It draws to a pretty extreme conclusion, but it’s one that makes sense and could potentially happen in a situation like this. What lengths would you go to for the one you love most? What crosses the line, and what can you forgive? The cast in this movie is focused and on-point throughout. Key players like Candace (Shi Smith), Joel (Jeremy Shaw) and Deon (Jalen Moffitt) all hit the mark – and so do the smaller roles like Danielle (Dominique Latrice), Stephanie (Timberly Hope), and Candace’s mom when we see them. So sure, perhaps Jaron could have moved things along a little more quickly, but at the same time, it’s extremely commendable to make a movie without leaving anything out and create a genuinely cohesive story that works from start to end. “Betray” is a solid film built on the perilous fragility of relationships.