The plot of this film might best be described as "The Graduate" meets "Fatal Attraction". The central character is Dan Hiller, a young man working as a builder, who meets, and has a brief affair with, Victoria, an attractive older woman. When his feelings of guilt (he is married with a young son) lead him to break off the affair, Victoria will not take no for an answer and pursues him, attempting to break up his marriage and ruin his career.
In "The Graduate", Mrs Robinson was supposed to be about twenty years older than Benjamin, although in reality Anne Bancroft was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman. In "Seduced and Betrayed" we have the opposite situation. Susan Lucci, who plays Victoria, is actually twenty-six years older than Baywatch beefcake David Charvet, who plays Dan, although I suspect that the difference in the ages of the characters is supposed to be rather less. Charvet was only twenty-three when he made this film, considerably younger not only than Lucci but also than Gabrielle Carteris who plays Dan's wife Cheryl, and wears designer stubble throughout, presumably a desperate attempt to make him look slightly less boyish. I doubt if the scriptwriters really intended to imply that Dan had fathered a child while still a schoolboy and that Cheryl was guilty of the statutory rape of a minor.
This carelessness about casting is only one of the problems with the film. After the success of "Fatal Attraction", there was a vogue in the late eighties and nineties for thrillers of this type, in which stranger who comes into the life of the hero or heroine initially seems pleasant and affable but later proves to be a mentally unstable or dangerously malevolent villain. "Fatal Attraction" itself is a reasonably good example of the genre, but "Seduced and Betrayed", which copies the same basic plot, is much weaker. Glenn Close gave an excellent performance in the earlier film, but Lucci is not in the same class as an actress. She has a reputation as the Queen as the TV movie- as far as I am aware she has never made a cinematic feature- but her performance here does nothing to counter the frequently-held belief that the TV movie is the last refuge of actors insufficiently talented or charismatic to make it in Hollywood.
She is reasonably convincing as the seductive older woman, looking surprisingly glamorous for a woman only just short of her fiftieth birthday, but when in the second half of the film the script requires her to turn nasty it is evidently asking for emotions beyond her range. The storyline obviously indicates that Victoria reacts to Dan's rejection of her with rage and vindictiveness, but Lucci's demeanour indicates nothing more serious than mild disappointment. Hell hath no fury like a woman slightly miffed with her ex-boyfriend.
Another reason for the weakness of the film is that Victoria is too obviously a villain. In "Fatal Attraction" we may not sympathise with the behaviour of Close's character Alex, but we can at least sympathise with her plight as a woman approaching middle age and desperate for love. Similarly, we can sympathise with the feelings of Rebecca de Mornay's character in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle", a woman who has suffered much and is desperate for revenge. This sympathy gives those films an added depth and resonance, but Victoria is so obviously selfish and manipulative, using her wealth, beauty and influence to snare Dan, that no such sympathy is possible here.
Carteris is not particularly convincing as Cheryl, and although the youthful Charvet copes surprisingly well with his role, there was nothing here to persuade me that this film was anything more than a routine TV potboiler. 4/10
Seduced and Betrayed
Drama / Thriller
Seduced and Betrayed
Drama / Thriller
A beautiful but equally dangerous widow won't take "no" for an answer as she draws a dedicated family man into a world of passion, deceit and betrayal, threatening to destroy him in the process. When a scheming widow hires a young contractor to renovate her home, she quickly turns the arrangement into much more than just a construction job. As she manipulates her young employee into a torrid affair, her target finally gives in for one night of passion. Realizing what he has done, the younger man insists that he cannot continue the relationship, but he soon finds that much more than his reputation is at stake.
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February 25, 2018 at 08:56 PM