Review: ‘Betrayed’ offers a crushing view of a Jewish family in Norway during World War II
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Norway may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the Holocaust. But as the powerful and immersive drama “Betrayed” reminds us, it was yet another European country whose Jewish citizens were ravaged by Nazi occupation.
Director Eirik Svensson, working off a vividly realized script by Lars Gudmestad and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg, recounts the truth-based story of the Braudes, an Oslo family of Lithuanian descent, most of whose members were eventually rounded up and deported to Auschwitz (the men by way of the Berg detention camp about 65 miles from Oslo).
Unlike many World War II-set tales of survival, this one is not a case of triumph over adversity but rather a wrenching look at one heinously targeted group and the faceless, factory-like speed in which an entire neighborhood could be decimated.
The film, shot in Norway, Sweden and Lithuania, is particularly crushing because of how effectively it invests us in the lives of the Braudes. It begins at the start of the war, three years before the edict came down to arrest every last Jew in Oslo (“No exceptions!”), and takes us to the fateful period in late 1942 when the family is systematically torn apart. The movie has its share of disturbing visuals, but it’s the profound emotional toll taken on the Braudes and their fellow Jews that packs the biggest punch.
Braude son Charles (Jakob Oftebro), a handsome, charismatic boxing champ who marries the lovely, gentile Ragnhild (Kristine Kujath Thorp), is the nominal main character here and, for much of the time, the story swirls around him. His adult brothers, Harry (Carl Martin Eggesbø) and Isak (Eilif Hartwig), and, to an extent, their father Benzel (Michalis Koutsogiannakis), a kindly butcher, are less well-defined (but no less sympathetic), as is fourth sibling Helene (Silje Storstein), who wisely leaves for Sweden early on to escape the looming terror. But matriarch Sara (Pia Halvorsen), a loving and stalwart seamstress, proves a memorable presence as she attempts to resist the inevitable.
Period re-creation is solid as are the performances, including Anders Danielsen Lie (“Bergman Island,” the upcoming “The Worst Person in the World”) as a conflicted assistant police chief and Nicolai Cleve Broch as a vindictive work camp commandant who challenges prisoner Charles to an unwinnable boxing match.
In Norwegian with English subtitles.
Running time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Playing: Starts Dec. 3, Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; also on VOD
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