True Colors [VHS]
This is a by-the-numbers tale of political chicanery and fallen idealism, but it works because of several strong performances. James Spader and John Cusack play law-school pals whose college idealism quickly falls away once they reach the real world. Playing against type, Spader is the straight arrow who goes on to work for the Justice Department. Cusack is the slippery conniver who parlays a job as an aide to an aging senator (Richard Widmark) into a springboard to elective office, all the while cutting corners, compromising his integrity, and breaking rules. For good measure, there's also romantic backstabbing. The film tends to get a shade heavy on the moralizing as Cusack slides further down the slope to outright corruption; Spader practically carries a sign saying, "I have the moral high ground." Still, both actors give their characters an interesting spin, and it's always good to see Widmark back in action. --Marshall Fine
The first lie should be a red flag you never take down.