Betrayal of the Dove (1993)

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Betrayal of The Dove opens with the lead character’s daughter, Autumn, giving a cute speech about a mother dove that is nesting with her chick outside her bedroom window. The speech quickly changes tone as the dove chick is killed by crows. Autumn calls it the betrayal of the dove. In a neat way this opening scene highlights the problems that Betrayal of The Dove presents. The script from Robby Benson is formulaic and predictable and the juxtaposition of different tones from consecutive scenes is jarring and unsatisfying.

Autumn’s mother  Ellie (Helen Slater), recently estranged from her husband Jack (Alan Thicke), meets Dr Jesse Peters (Billy Zane) and thinks that she has found happiness. A series of events and premonitions, however, lead her to believe that she and her daughter are caught up in a web of deceit and are in imminent danger.

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It’s a familiar sounding plot because Betrayal of the Dove doesn’t offer anything original. The use of the dove as light and good and the crow as dark evil is massively overdone. The film does an okay job of building tension and some mystery around the plot until it is revealed that the sole motive for taking Ellie out of the picture is monetary gain.

The dry plot is not helped by an apparent confusion in the direction in which the film is supposed to go.There are a bunch of stylistic elements thrown together but not a singular direction for them to go in. There are hints of psychological thrillers with Ellie’s premonitions of death and bizarre nightmare sequences or strong nods to film noir with a would-be private eye and an obvious femme-fatale, played wonderfully by Kelly LeBrock. Neither of these styles takes precedence and the film lacks a real identity because of it.

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The confusion in identity comes out through the film. One scene has Ellie and Autumn rushing around the house like Benny Hill to tidy up before Dr Peters arrives, the next scene has Dr Peters hurting Autumn during a game of catch in a much more serious moment. Later in the film Norman, a spurned lover of Ellie’s who takes on the role of investigator, comes bounding in to the hospital dressed in a comedy gorilla suit. Moments later there is tension as someone attempts to poison Ellie. It all feels hastily made and fumbled together.

Billy Zane is perhaps the stand out positive, a crazy performance in a rickety film. He enters the fray as Dr Peters with a smarmy handsome bastard charm offensive that makes him seem like a prototype Gossip Girl male lead. He is excellent with Autumn and a gentleman to Ellie but he plays the character with a knowing undercurrent of malice. His grin and wide eyes say psycho, betraying the rest of his character. The rest of the cast provide a solid frame, all with decent acting credentials including Harvey Korman, but Zane steals the show.

This review comes across entirely negatively but Betrayal of The Dove is not wholly terrible, just surprisingly boring and lifeless for a film that throws together so many styles. The result is a below par by-the-numbers thriller that makes more sense on a budget DVD than on the big screen.


Director:  Strathford Hamilton

Main Cast: Helen Slater, Billy Zane, Kelly LeBrock

Certificate: 15

Special Features: None, not even a ‘Scene Selection’ option.

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