Icon of Betrayal wears its trashiness on its sleeve, and I am here for it! If the movie weren’t so languidly paced, it just might have pulled off instant campiness due to a game and energetic cast speaking some priceless dialogue.
At an elemental level, this delectable tale about the dark side of show business (the best kind of films about the entertainment industry, in my opinion) tackles a very commonly dramatized show biz trope: the plight of the aging actress as she is confronted by a younger, hotter thing in position to usurp her mantle. In this case, the aging actress is one Reid Donovan, played by the wonderful Isabel Nesti in a role that Catherine Zeta-Jones might play in a bigger-budget movie.
“Reid and Penelope decide that Q must be held accountable for playing them…”
Reid has achieved an enviable level of fame in her career, but she’s tired and feels stifled by her Svengali of a manager (and lover?), Quinton (Ed Keates). Quinton (or Q) is a classic manipulator. He is the kind of a*****e that earnestly insists he is always operating in Reid’s best interests. Then, in a meeting between Reid, Q, and a younger actress, Penelope Jones (Florence Harvey), who has, to Reid’s confusion, been cast in a role meant for her, Reid is shocked to learn that her role in the film is actually as Penelope’s stepmother! Ouch!
So Reid slips deeper and deeper into the champagne bottle, as any aging movie star worth their salt would. Of course, it doesn’t help that Q tells her she’s “better than this” after Reid makes a desperate pass at him, then twists the knife as he looks straight into her crying eyes and tells her that Penelope is “perfect!” This guy is a study in class.
Slowly, Reid begins to lose it and deduces that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. She begins to mentor Penelope and soon discovers that Q is working his charms not only on the young ingénue but also on another actress he’s keeping on deck. Reid and Penelope decide that Q must be held accountable for playing them and for his general mismanagement of their lives. But is Reid truly an ally to Penelope, or is she simply out for revenge? Love it!
"…the plot is wonderfully classic showbiz trash."