Debra Winger, Betrayed
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Monday, April 11, 2005
“One does not have to "buy" the message of Betrayed to be stirred by some of the conflicting emotions its arouses, and most of these can be attributed to the devastating performance of Debra Winger as Cathy Weaver, a Mata hari fo the FBI, who goes undercover as Katie Phillips. Throughout her career, Winger has combined a volcanic sexuality (first noticed when she writhed erotically on the mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy) with a nurturing warmth that has made millions of people cry over such otherwise manipulative entertainments as An Officer and a Gentleman and Terms of Endearment. In Betrayed, Winger's blazing eyes interact fiercely and intimately with her racist lover (Tom Berenger) and her FBI boss/ex-lover (John Heard), as well as her lover's children and his pathetically evil companions. Much of the movie's moral confusion is caused by the affecting way in which Winger looks at John Mahoney, as the terminally wimpish Shorty, and Ted Levine, as the sharp-eyed ferret Wes, despite their depravity.
Betrayed . . . ends with a whimper, letting the romance of a rootless, alienated woman subvert the antifascist message. . . . [R]eviewers have . . . complain[ed] about all the improbabilities of Winger's behavior as an FBI agent. One is reminded of the complaints about the clumsiness of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in the wine cellar of Notorious . . . [I]t is possible to accept Betrayed as a divided movie, in which the political text fizzles while the emotional subtext sizzles.
. . . . The theme of betrayal . . . cuts even deeper into the audience psyche when a beautiful woman agent goes undercover--between the sheets--with all the flair and panache Debra Winger projects. If Cathy/Katie were more ruthless and cynical, there would not be so much of a problem. . . . Winger lets love cloud her moral vision: The result is richer in admittedly mixed feelings than would have been possible in a straight, coherent propaganda pitch for "tolerance."
Village Voice, September 27, 1988
Get also Sarris's notes about Winger in review of Big Bad Love (also in Pauline Kael obit?)