Review: Betrayal

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It is very human to have moments where the past simultaneously merges with the present, each flashback bringing with it raptures of pleasure or pain, sometimes both – crystallising moments of passion, love, failure, anger, guilt… However, in Håkon Gundersen’s “Betrayal” these flashbacks somehow manage to seamlessly merge the gratuitous with the meretricious. This World War II film recounts true life events during the Nazi occupation of Norway through the eyes of double agent and cabaret singer Eva Karlsen, who has managed to escape and who finally decides to tell her granddaughter how she came to arrive in America about forty years after the event.

What should be an informative and thought-provoking piece about Nazi-collaborators in Norway during the Second World War quickly turns into a missed opportunity. We are told of Tor Lindblom, owner of Club Havana, who profiteers from supplying the Nazis with everything ranging from alcohol and cigarettes to cement and steel. He is in love with Eva, the aforementioned British double agent, and singer in the nightclub, who also works part-time for the Gestapo. The film tries to focus on some important issues regarding Norway’s biggest industrial company making aluminium at Herøya, and the threat of its bombing by the Allies, but this is confused and difficult to engage with. We are shown the London skyline, accompanied by a superfluous voiceover, and then thrown back into the depths of the seedy squalor of Club Havana.

Furthermore and devastatingly so, we are not allowed to form any kind of emotional attachment to these characters, no real connection with their motivations, and no investment into their personal projects – this is a piece where apathy triumphs. That choking, sickening feeling of being betrayed is merely hinted at, leaving us neither sympathetic nor outraged.

Released this month on DVD.

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