|Index||3 reviews in total|
Betrayal joins a relatively modest list of recent Second World War set
resistance thrillers that includes the likes of Black Book; The Army of
Crime and Lust, Caution. It is a film not as good as any of those, and
with a distinct debt, it often feels, owed to that of Black Book in its
covering of young attractive women of one set side manoeuvring their
way back and forth between their resistance and the enemy a lot of
sex and sleaze apparent as numerous supporting acts all get tangled up
in chaos born out of illicit actions. Furthermore, an example of a bad
Second World War film of this ilk might be found in 2005's the Aryan
Couple; an overly long, ponderous, un-cinematic drag with the threat of
a Jewish man's art collection being stolen at the core of it: six
million people are dying around the corner in death camps and we're
here trying to muster up some welling for these idiots and their
landscapes. Betrayal is additionally a good step back from what could
be perceived as a fethisisation of clandestine action during the era of
World War Two; Tarantino's recent Inglourious Basterds a rampaging;
romping; no-holds barred resistance thriller which, to it's credit,
went a long way in restoring certain amounts of faith toward its
creator, but sidestepped challenging narratives and grounded
characters, whom didn't resemble anything even remotely close to that
of anything else other than graphic novel archetypes, for flat out
thrills and spills of a more prosaic variety.
For the record, I happened to quite enjoy Hakon Gunderson's 2010 film; a film with a menacing, brooding atmosphere as suspicion and intrigue plays out in a locale already rife with hatred and aggression. I enjoyed its burning sense of gamesmanship, Gunderson's film effectively a mood piece instilling a sense that resonates throughout suggesting most characters already know absolutely everything corrupt and depraved there is to know about certain others, but just don't necessarily have enough in the form of hard evidence to actually blow everything out yet. The film covers that of Eva Karlsen, a young Norwegien women played by performer Lene Nystrøm, whose tale of coming to operate with that nation's resistance in occupied Oslo is the order of the day. We begin in the early 1990s, the film coming to form one long flashback as an elderly Eva lays everything out to her granddaughter in a rich Californian home, as the revealing of certain truths for the first time becomes apparent.
Beginning in the 1940s at a large social function, Gunderson kicks things off in the style of Schindler's List; a further revealing of certain business entrepreneurs meeting amidst the aforementioned character Eva dancing in the style of burlesque on stage, as Nazi officers mingle around for whatever reason, implementing our thoughts. Eva, the actress whom plays her in this younger incarnation additionally a singer and a dancer, is charged by her resistance accomplices to infiltrate the life of a German Gestapo Major named Kruger (Otto), whose possession of certain trinkets are of great interest to that of the group. An early instance of Gunderson's ability to deal with the lower-set, more intimate instances of great drama and tension away from the more expansively driven visual sequences occurs when Eva slips a copy of a key into a mould whilst he's out of the room to exterior chorus' of Hitler youth songs and chants that act as an oral extension of Kruger's own power.
Things are complicated when, what is effectively a tax man with a doctorate, Dr. Walter (Tschiersch) arrives; the man charged with checking up on the owner of the nightclub from the opening scene in Tor Lindblom (Såheim), who's in twisted cahoots with Kruger over shifty deals and distribution that sees both of them come out richer. Things are even harder for Tor when it's revealed he desires a relationship with Eva, but her true affections are with a Norwegian pilot named Svein (Conradi), whom was shot down in the English Channel, no less, and managed to lumber his way back to Oslo instilling workmanlike qualities. The film's clawing interplay between each of these parties concocts the bulk of the film, the majority of it a lot more interesting than it has any right to be; Gunderson striking us as a director far more adept at developing and shooting these instances in which characters attempt to wedge out the truth of certain others' nature, all of it arriving with a sense of underplayed menace making for good viewing.
We enjoy the film's sense of noir; throughout, the film covering characters we sense are not entirely certain just as to where they stand on either side of a proverbial line. Kruger certainly makes money for himself and backs up the German war effort in his being there, but how much of what he makes on the side is filtering its way through to the Nazi's central hub? Equally, his partner in crime Tor is betraying his own occupied people and growing fat in the process marking the character of Walter out as, in spite of his affiliation with the Nazi party, initially one of very few characters on a straighter, narrower path than most. Additionally, its stylised lighting and generally low-level colour scheme works with the other technical qualities; all of it combining to create something alluding to film noir without necessarily making an obvious, World War Two-set clandestine apparentness about proceedings as was perhaps evident, although not its detriment, in something like Soderbergh's The Good German. In spite of a few issues that rear up, and against the poorer opinions that have arisen following its release, one would find it difficult to say that one did not enjoy the journey one was taken on during Betrayal, a film made by someone I wouldn't mind seeing more work from in the future given the aesthetical qualities and prominent sense of ambition in his debut.
Betrayal centres around Nazi occupied Norway in 1943, with rampant
profiteers making a killing from supplying the Nazis with both raw
materials and luxuries. Tor Lindblom (Fridtjov Såheim), is but one of
those profiteers, operating out of his popular Oslo nightclub, Club
Havana. However, due to his crucial involvement with the construction
of an aluminium factory that will greatly boost the Nazis' ailing
efforts on the Eastern Front, the British Government has marked
Lindblom for death. Double agent Eva (Lene Nystrøm) along with Tor's
pilot brother Svein (Kåre Conradi), must take out Tor and get the plans
for the factory to British intelligence before their intentions are
discovered by the Gestapo.
Based on true events, Betrayal's story does not translate at all well from the pages of history to an exciting 90 odd minutes of cinema. It's very obvious from the beginning as to what everyone's patterns of behaviour will be and what they will all do to achieve their aims. Although there is some scope for creating tension and drama, there needs to be some sort of elevation of the material to make this work effectively. This is where Betrayal really finds it's major fault; the limp and stodgy direction from helmer Hakon Gunderson.
Proceedings take on a very slow pace, with well over two thirds of it's running time going by before attempts at excitement kick in. Even then, the action is very perfunctory with a distinct lack of tension or thrills. Certainly, the movie is well put together, with a satisfying feeling of authenticity to it's overall look, as well as being handsomely filmed. However, there is no real zip to the direction and as the story lumbers on, any feeling of involvement in the drama quickly fades.
The languid nature of the movie also takes it's toll on Gunderson's ability to elicit convincing portrayals from some of the cast it seems, with the two brothers Tor and Svein (although both are hopelessly miscast) being more akin to sacks of spuds than crucial and dynamic drivers of the plot. However, while Nystrøm's turn as the heroine is pretty good, the real star of the show is prolific German actor Götz Otto as Krüger, the greedy and corrupt Gestapo officer and business partner of Lindblom. Otto really has screen presence and portrays his role with great relish.
Regrettably, there is not much else to recommend Betrayal. Filmed, framed and shot very well, with a convincing attention to detail, the skill of the crew does come through to the viewer. However the lack of tension, predictability and ponderous pacing make this wartime thriller a rather drab affair indeed.
Betrayal (Svik) could have been an important movie about
Nazi-collaborators in Norway during the first world war, and the film
wants to focus on some important matters regarding Norways biggest
industrial company making aluminum at Herøya factories during the war.
But the film manages to make this a complete mess. The script could easily have told what is going on, but it takes more than an hour to understand what the point of the story is. And even then you might lose it.
The actors does an OK job, but also here's trouble. It seems like the seriousness of the story goes to their head and into their acting. We tend to find the characters interesting, until we later really don't care what will happen. None of them is lovable, which is a problem in a film with a question of taking sides and understanding the actions.
The film is beautifully shot, and the historical backgrounds are flawless, except a strange opening scene over a London war time sky. In Oslo and Herøya, as well as at the Swedish border everything functions.
It's such a pity they couldn't throw away the script, making it clearer and better. Even Lene Nystrøm (of Aqua) would have come out a better actress that way. She does fair, especially when on stage singing out German "lieder".
There where great expectations to this, after the great film "Max Manus", but I'm sorry to say this is a long step back from that war time story. With a better script this could have been a 7 out of 10. The 3 out of 10 is for good intentions, and great wartime coloring, as well as the cast trying to make us interested, as well as the importance of this story - if only someone had told it understandable.
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