Best Betrayal Movies
The best betrayal movies offer audiences an unexpected twist that can halt the flow of the story and create immense suspense. These films also prove that sometimes the most trusted characters are the backstabbers.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer — that’s the oft-repeated mantra. But even straight-edge cop Exley has his share of betrayals in this gripping noir.
While you may not be familiar with the term “gaslighting,” it’s likely you’ve seen one in action. The popular term, which comes from a 1940 play written by Patrick Hamilton and later adapted into a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman, describes psychological manipulation used in abusive relationships.
In the film version of Gas Light, a deceitful husband named Gregory manipulates his wife Paula into believing she is losing her mind so he can steal her aunt’s priceless jewels. He does so by playing with their house’s gas-powered lights to make them flicker, telling her she is imagining it.
This kind of abuse typically occurs in romantic and family relationships, but can happen at work, too. A person who engages in gaslighting will undermine your confidence and self-esteem by questioning your perception of events or denying evidence, Sweet says. They may also be secretive and erratic. These behaviors are the hallmarks of emotional abuse. They can be especially destructive in close relationships, such as a parent-child relationship.
A gangster movie like no other, Goodfellas is an eye-opening look at the raw amorality of a tightly knit group that feels invincible to the law. Its power lies in its ability to show us a world we’ve only seen glamorized, sanitized and romanticized in many other movies.
Ray Liotta is at his best here as Henry Hill, a mobster who betrays his family and his friends to save himself. He becomes an informant, ratting on his partners and enrolling in the Witness Protection Program. The movie is a riveting and utterly absorbing depiction of how greed, arrogance and narcissism can lead to destruction.
Like all of Martin Scorsese’s movies, Goodfellas is about more than just a mob story. It’s a morality tale about how absolute power corrupts absolutely. It also illustrates the power of a great film director and the enduring appeal of the thriller genre. It is one of the most recognizable and memorable movies of all time.
3. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’
A defining moment in modern film, The Silence of the Lambs is a movie that keeps on giving. A masterful interworking of genre conventions and classical themes, it is about good versus evil on a basic level and also about the maturation of Clarice Starling into a full-fledged hero. It is also about a powerful relationship between two antagonists and an ambiguous victim who is not the stereotypical damsel in distress.
Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s book features a classic double-act: Sir Anthony Hopkins’ bone-chilling turn as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster’s strong performance as FBI rookie Clarice Starling. While many films based on serial killers have glorified the depraved characters, The Silence of the Lambs takes a different tack by making its hero the central character. The film also tackles the subject of sexual abuse / trauma and ideas about transformation. The fact that the FBI allowed Demme to use their facility at Quantico to shoot the film adds a degree of realism to its story.
4. ‘Pulp Fiction’
When it comes to a backstabbing movie, few are better than ‘Pulp Fiction.’ While it doesn’t feature the most shocking backstabbings on this list, its satirical tone and engaging cast make it a memorable and entertaining film. The movie’s pacing is strong, and its plotting and characters all add up to a film that’s still enjoyable more than twenty years after its release.
The movie’s most infamous betrayal occurs when hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega arrive at an apartment to kill two young men who wronged their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace. During the course of the conversation, Jules and Vince discover that one of the men betrayed them by double-crossing them.
Pulp Fiction is also notable for showcasing the strength of its female characters. While some fall into stereotypes, such as Butch’s paramour Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), others get equal screen time and character development. This allows the film to offer a more balanced view of its male-dominated genre.