With the plethora of World War Two dramas out there, it can sometimes be easy to forget that these were real human beings who were forced to endure the atrocities imposed on them by the Nazis across Europe. Director Eirik Svensson’s Betrayed succeeds in reminding audiences of the devastating impact of the Nazi regime on countless lives in this intimate but flawed drama.
The filmmaker directs his gaze to Norway and the real-life Braude family, who have recently fled to Oslo to avoid persecution in Lithuania. Their new lives are going well: Charles (Jakob Oftebro) is making a name for himself as a boxer and is engaged to the woman of his dreams (Kristine Kujath Thorp), his father (Michalis Koutsogiannakis) is doing well, and he has a close bond with the rest of his family. But this happiness is extinguished when the Nazis swiftly occupy the country. It’s not long before the male members of the family are arrested and taken to Berg prison camp, while the remaining relatives are left behind, uncertain of what will happen to their loved ones as they continue to face increasing daily cruelty at home.
Svensson’s film is about a family ripped apart, and he understands the importance of the bonds between these characters in telling their story. A lot of effort is put into the opening act to emphasise their closeness, as the performers (especially Oftebro, Thorp and Koutsogiannakis) bounce wonderfully off each other. And, when their hardships begin, it’s unassuming moments such as when the Braude men sharing a laugh together in a prison camp that act as brief sparks of strength and hope. A sorrowful orchestral score, aching with tenderness, tugs at the heartstrings and provides a sobering gravitas to many of the events depicted. Moreover, the use of silence during the tragic ending is a highly effective way to allow the reality of the scene to sink in.
Though Betrayed closes on an impactful note, the film isn’t without its issues. It’s overly romanticised opening verges on cliché, and jumbled subplots make keeping track of the various new players a headache. And despite a tightly knit core cast, Svensson is unable to bring anything particularly new or substantial to the table. In short, Betrayed is a well made film with a phenomenal cast that’s unable to stand out from the crowd.
Betrayed is released digitally on demand on 10th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Betrayed here: