Betrayal: Films and books with accurate responses to it
July 18, 2017 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Hey there, I'm looking for films and books that accurately portray people's (ideally women's) responses to a huge betrayal. Not the Hollywood sort where there's some light anger, and then they're over it, but heavy responses to betrayal, when the person you love/trust/believe the most betrays you, gaslights you, leaves you, abuses you, etc. Thanks.
posted by Kombucha3452 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mochapickle at 7:18 AM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Heartburn! By Nora Ephron.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:19 AM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

War of the Roses.
posted by whowearsthepants at 7:37 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:44 AM on July 18, 2017

She-Devil starring Roseanne Barr.
Thelma and Louise.
Fatal Attraction (while I don't know that people would actually boil a bunny, a lot of people can still relate to her).
posted by Melismata at 7:46 AM on July 18, 2017

I recently read a memoir called A Beautiful, Terrible Thing. It's not Great Literature, but it's precisely about betrayal and it goes into a lot of the longer-term psychological fallout.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:51 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, and the movie Hope Floats, which I don't love, is pretty much about this--the long, sloggy nature of trying to heal after someone you love pulls the rug out from under you.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:52 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's been years since I've seen it, but the reaction of Jill Clayburgh in An Unmarried Woman to the news that her husband is divorcing her remains seared in my memory. Now that you mention it, I'm going to re-watch it. I have a feeling the whole thing is as visceral.
posted by janey47 at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The book White Oleander is a good example of this. The narrator is in the foster system and gets her heart broken by anyone she trusts.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2017

While the show is definitely a comedy, I thought Grace and Frankie did a really good job of showing the long term aftermath of a deep betrayal, not just between the betrayer and betrayee, but also among their family, social circle, and with their own thoughts and feelings. I appreciated that 30 years of infidelity was not just swept under the rug for the hijinks, but I also liked that they showed a lot of the hurt and mixed feelings that came along with it, not just the anger.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has also had a couple of really good betrayal-based plot lines with long-term repercussions. Willow and Tara in season 6, Buffy and Angel in seasons 2-3, Buffy and her friends at the beginning of season 3, etc.
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:21 AM on July 18, 2017 [12 favorites]

The ancient Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides is all about a woman's revenge for a betrayal. There appear to also be at least two films of that name based on the play.
posted by FencingGal at 8:54 AM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Girl On The Train
posted by Sassyfras at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Count of Monte Cristo
posted by DigDoug at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:20 AM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.
posted by yarly at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2017

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a bit dated, but is a classic of this genre and my recollection is that Ann Brontë goes slow and works out the character's feelings of betrayal and the slow unspooling of her trust in a realistic way.

Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple also does this very well (in the specific context of infidelity)--the book explores the perspective of both the wife and the daughter, when they find out about the husband/father's infidelity. There is a reconcilation of sorts but the book does give due weight to the betrayal and its permanent effects. Whipple is generally good at writing different kinds of betrayal and its repercussions, and her other treatments of it are less optimistic than Someone At a Distance--They Were Sisters includes a scorching portrayal of emotional abuse, affecting both the woman and the children of the marriage, and this is also a theme in The Priory.

I second Heartburn by Nora Ephron, both the book and the movie with Meryl Streep. They are rather different, but both hit the emotional notes you seem to be after here.

This is non-fiction, but betrayal of trust and its terrible consequences are a central theme in Roxane Gay's memoir, Hunger, and she explores its ramifications unflinchingly. (This concerns rape of a child, so is a harder read than any of the others and YMMV on whether you can stomach it. I found it hard to read in a single sitting--I had to walk away from the book a couple of times--but worth it.)

Henry James often writes about trust and the effects of betrayal of trust. Washington Square, especially, is a great examples of this. The main character deals with two awful intimate betrayals, neither are lightly handled and both have permanent consequences.
posted by Aravis76 at 10:43 AM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

The recently released Netflix series GLOW.
posted by bq at 11:36 AM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing Grace and Frankie. They do a good job with the betrayal, although I feel they do kind of work through it rather fast. It is funny, but I feel its more a dramadey then straight up comedy anyway.

Also the old movie Double Jeopardy deals with this.

Also the entire premise of Kill Bill is vengeance by a woman betrayed.
posted by Dimes at 1:09 PM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

The 1948 film The Heiress, with Olivia de Haviland, Ralph Richardson, and Montgomery Clift. Adapted from a play of the same name based on Henry James' short story Washington Square.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 1:56 PM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Politician's Husband. 2013. BBC miniseries with Emily Watson.
posted by madstop1 at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

The 1983 movie Betrayal, based on Harold Pinter's stage play of the same name, is excruciating because it's told in reverse. It begins with Ben Kingsley witnessing his wife Patricia Hodge and best-friend Jeremy Irons canoodling, and then steps back in time through all the strongly suspicious, then slightly suspicious, then friendly, then enthusiastic interactions among the three.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:55 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lemonade!! Beyonce's film on this is gorgeous and real.
posted by sadmadglad at 4:11 PM on July 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

The Good Wife!
posted by fshgrl at 4:21 PM on July 18, 2017

Waiting to Exhale? Just for that iconic scene with Angela Bassett.
posted by buttonedup at 4:42 PM on July 18, 2017

Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, after Christmas).
posted by gemutlichkeit at 4:57 PM on July 18, 2017

Dolores Claiborne.
posted by human ecologist at 6:12 PM on July 18, 2017

I remember the Battlestar Galactica TV show having a pretty well-done monologue about betrayal sometime in the 2nd-3rd season.
posted by Hatashran at 7:20 PM on July 18, 2017

Ooh! Dr Foster.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 5:16 AM on July 19, 2017

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