Caught in the crossfire of longstanding love and unexpected lust, a young woman may go too far in pursuit of what she desires. This conflict between love and lust is what Jaron Lockridge explores in Betray, his feature film about Candace (Shi Smith) and her husband Joel (Jeremy Shaw) as their far from perfect relationship finally begins to unravel.

With his chronic injury, Joel’s dreams of playing basketball are shattered, and Candace has grown disillusioned with their marriage. But when the suave Deon (Jalen Moffitt)—the boyfriend of her co-worker and best friend Stephanie (Timberly Hope)—starts showing an interest in her, Candace can’t see a way back to the life she and her husband used to have. Joel fades into the background as Deon and Candace’s affair heats up—but not every secret can stay hidden forever. Candace finds herself caught between her longtime love, her best friend, and the one person who seems to finally be bringing some excitement into her monotonous life.

With the disenchanted Candace at its helm, Lockridge’s Betray is grounded in its view of a young woman trying to find a way forward as her marriage turns rocky. Rather than take an overtly cinematic approach, Lockridge emphasizes honesty, simplicity, and naturalism, allowing the characters and their conflicts to shine. Every conversation is rife with true-to-life dialogue that prioritizes realism above all else. We see the story and its characters for what and who they are at their core; there are no embellishments hiding their rights and wrongs, only the truth about what they’ve done to find happiness in a life that seems apt to render them forgettable.

Lockridge manages to be economical in his storytelling at times—specifically when it comes to the emotional core of his film. However, the film struggles in several respects, perhaps most of all in its pacing. While its naturalism is to be commended, the film lacks the momentum it needs. Scenes can drag on for too long, often overflowing with dialogue that does little for character growth or development but rather lengthens interactions unnecessarily.

Many of the film’s characters also fall victim to one-dimensionality that makes them hard to engage with. Moffitt fills the shoes of the seductive and overconfident Deon well, yet the character himself feels forced into the story with little clarity about his motivations. Despite his major role, he feels more like a plot point than a fully embodied character that we’re eager to watch. Other characters struggle similarly, such as the assistant basketball coach Danielle (Dominique Latrice) with whom Joel takes a business trip without telling his wife. Her presence has the potential to be catastrophic to Joel and Candace’s relationship, but with so little development of her outside of the confines of her short jaunt with Joel, she is quickly lost in the fray. At times, Joel seems to fall victim to this as well, something that proves a major downfall given his part in Candace’s life. Outside of his love of basketball, he feels empty and underdeveloped, merely there to create suspense for the audience about whether or not he will discover Candace’s relationship with Deon. There are depths that could be mined for each of these characters, but we are left only to look at the surface of who they are as the film progresses.

With that said, Candace and her friend Stephanie support the story well, their believable chemistry marking a major success throughout the film. With the added element of Stephanie’s ongoing relationship with Deon, her friendship with Candace becomes an avenue rich with conflict that we beg to see play out on the screen. Who, if anyone, will find out about the affair, and what might happen if they do? These are the questions that we are left with, and they carry us along to the film’s climax.

Following this climax, though, the film’s ending leaves us questions that swirl around the final shots as opposed to answers. Even so, Lockridge’s film as a whole merits a watch, particularly for the emotional punch it packs from start to finish. Be it a fight with Joel, a love scene with Deon, a heartening conversation with her mother (Tymika Chambliss), or a simple shot of Candace alone with her emotions, we are never in doubt that while betrayal may be this film’s name, the complexity and heartbreak of love are what keeps us watching.




Caught in the crossfire of longstanding love and unexpected lust, a young woman may go too far in pursuit of what she desires. This conflict

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