The Betrayal - Nerakhoon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Betrayal - Nerakhoon Reviews

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½ September 16, 2013
If this were a just world this documentary would be a 'sleeper,' but it has yet to be discovered. I can't add to the praise for this documentary. All I can write is that all of the praise is so well deserved.
½ March 3, 2012
Thought-provoking, depressing documentary.
December 4, 2011
In my own self-inflicted ignorance, I thought this documentary was going to focus on the Vietnam War and its after-effects on the country of Laos. However, while it may start out this way, Nerakhoon is actually the tale of a family divided and strangled by the war, and their struggles to make a life for themselves in a new world.

Made refugees by the violence in their own country, our feature family relocates to America, the self-proclaimed land of opportunity, only to discover that what they thought to be heaven was in and of itself a hell. Crime, drugs, gangs, and poverty reign supreme, and our family finds its culture and language alienated in the melting pot that was (is) New York City.

What I personally found most interesting about this film was the indirect hypotheses behind why families that have immigrated from Asian nations find themselves out of place and uncomfortable in their new surroundings. Often the decision to leave is due to violence or seeking of a new future for offspring, but the parents themselves shy away from society, and it can take many generations of tumultuous fervor and restlessness for the family to truly accommodate its new surroundings and accept its new identity - and find itself home.

In Nerakhoon, we find a possible explanation for the explosion of Laos-related gangs that sprung up in the United States in the 1970's and 80's, as refugees relocated in droves, only to find themselves without proper homes are financial security. And this is exactly how gangs are formed. It's science, boys and girls.

You'll notice this review mostly ignored the actual war itself, despite it being the basis for this film, but again I felt that the family was the true focus here. The fact that this material was shot over the course of a couple of decades was truly exceptional, and our narrator's perspective was eye opening. How many of us have neighbours without English as a first language, families that are largely foreign, anti-social and reclusive? Instead of judging them, watch this movie and try to understand their circumstances - we take for granted the feeling of home and the comfort of living in a society that shares the same morals, ideals, and languages we do. Good film.
February 2, 2011
Detailing the plight of a Laotian immigrant family beset by difficulties. Though they could easily play the victim card, both the mother and the eldest son refuse, instead looking forward and doing their best to keep the family together. The footage over such a long period of time makes quite an impact, as does the poetic conclusion. This is an effective, commendable, and personal look at the challenges of a group too often ignored--immigrants seeking political asylum.
October 27, 2010
Makes me appreciate all my father's and mother's hard work to get my sisters and I to where we are today. The struggles they went through and love they have for the homeland. I will always strive to honor the trials they went through by accomplishing the dreams they had for me.
½ October 12, 2010
A nominee for best documentary at the Academy Awards, The Betrayal-Nerakhoon follows a 23 year struggle by a family of Laotians from their journey out of Vietnam era Laos through to the present day where a separated family still attempts to reconnect between New York and Laos. The scope of the film is astonishing, the fact that cinematographer Ellen Kuras stayed with the Laotian family over the years particularly the eldest son is an achievement in itself. Add to that the editing down of all the collected material to build this condemning film and you have a film on at least a stylistic front worthy of praise. What lies beneath the surface of the film is however, the most fascinating element of the film. Kuras' decision to look at Laos rather than Vietnam and put another American foul up under the microscope is a breath of fresh air (quite frankly I am finished with Nam stories); The Betrayal is a result of the fallout of America's secret aerial war on Laos and the guerrilla war they started in tandem with Laotian military officials. What was promised to these guerrillas was a brighter future, what was given them was death, torture, and for a lucky few a brief reprieve from these horrors. Following the failure in Vietnam, this small group of willing Laotians was left alone and left to face the repercussions brought forth by a change in government. For the focus family all was not lost, as the bulk of their members survived a very last minute, fraught with danger escape to the US. Unfortunately, the land of milk and honey was not what it was cut out to be, as the Laotians are thrown away like trash with a months worth of food stamps and not much else. To speak further of what happens to this family over the years would betray their amazing journey over the years. The negatives and there are a few are as follows, The Betrayal is hindered by a sluggish pace, a tiresome repetitive score, and for me never totally being able to sympathize with the focus family. Overall though there is more than enough to applaud in this documentary whether that be head shaking historical reportage of heart wrenching real life family drama.
April 21, 2010
In my own self-inflicted ignorance, I thought this documentary was going to focus on the Vietnam War and its after-effects on the country of Laos. However, while it may start out this way, Nerakhoon is actually the tale of a family divided and strangled by the war, and their struggles to make a life for themselves in a new world.

Made refugees by the violence in their own country, our feature family relocates to America, the self-proclaimed land of opportunity, only to discover that what they thought to be heaven was in and of itself a hell. Crime, drugs, gangs, and poverty reign supreme, and our family finds its culture and language alienated in the melting pot that was (is) New York City.

What I personally found most interesting about this film was the indirect hypotheses behind why families that have immigrated from Asian nations find themselves out of place and uncomfortable in their new surroundings. Often the decision to leave is due to violence or seeking of a new future for offspring, but the parents themselves shy away from society, and it can take many generations of tumultuous fervor and restlessness for the family to truly accommodate its new surroundings and accept its new identity - and find itself home.

In Nerakhoon, we find a possible explanation for the explosion of Laos-related gangs that sprung up in the United States in the 1970's and 80's, as refugees relocated in droves, only to find themselves without proper homes are financial security. And this is exactly how gangs are formed. It's science, boys and girls.

You'll notice this review mostly ignored the actual war itself, despite it being the basis for this film, but again I felt that the family was the true focus here. The fact that this material was shot over the course of a couple of decades was truly exceptional, and our narrator's perspective was eye opening. How many of us have neighbours without English as a first language, families that are largely foreign, anti-social and reclusive? Instead of judging them, watch this movie and try to understand their circumstances - we take for granted the feeling of home and the comfort of living in a society that shares the same morals, ideals, and languages we do. Good film.
March 1, 2010
Nominated for best documerntary
½ January 9, 2010
This is an exceptional documentary that follows the lives of Laotian refugees over 30 years & the fallout from America's "Secret War."
October 8, 2009
Beautiful. Inspiring. and depressing. I liked it very much.
½ September 22, 2009
Hieman liian hidastempoinen, mutta kaunis, dokumentti yhden perheen koettelemuksista 70 luvun Laosista nykypaivan New Yorkiin. Paljon mielenkiintoista jaa ulkopuolelle, johtuen omasta perheesta tekemisessa tarkentamis vaikeudesta olennaiseen ja muita kiinnostavaan.
½ September 5, 2009
I guess I should give hands to dedication of 23 years to make this documentary complete. Though ordeal that the whole family to go through and endure, for some reason, I couldn't sympathize and feel for the family.
½ September 4, 2009
Haunting, poetic and damning, this well produced documentary reveals the plight of the Laotian refugees, an important story that is not well known by the mainstream public.
July 18, 2009
This is a terrific documentary that is obviously a labor of love. It shows only the hardships of the family and none of the triumphs, which I think only would have acted to make the story more powerful, but all in all the story of the "secret war" in Laos and the role of the US government is well-handled while not putting this film in any leftist or anti-US categories.
April 17, 2009
This is a heart rending documentary. Unfortunately it depicts an all too common refugee experience. The twenty year time span does enable the film to provide a modium of hope. The family's resilience is quite inspiring.
½ February 28, 2009
This documentary tells the story of the consequences to a family when America pulls out from Laos during the Vietnam era on a personal level. As you follow the family's story over a couple of decades from Laos to what happens when they come to live in the USA, you experience their struggles in both countries. Betrayal is seen from a political and personal level. There are some really nice touching moments in the film despite a depressing subject matter.
February 28, 2009
Terrible film about what could've been an interesting subject.

But what subject would that be? An incredibly unfocused picture. The film spans two decades. Perhaps had the film been completed earlier (which seems to have been the original intent from what I saw) it might have been better.

Only the first 15 minutes of this film are worth watching.

That being said, the Mother is incredibly heartbreaking and fascinating to watch. There is ONE good moment later in the film, when the filmmaker leaves the camera rolling on the mother...leaving her to anguish in front of our eyes. It is mesmerizing. But then we are COMPLETELY robbed by not seeing her reunion with her two daughters (we instead see it with her son) with no reason why.

Terrible disappointment.
February 19, 2009
Extremely compelling documentary that illustrates the role of the political climate in the personal struggle of a Laotian family.
February 4, 2009
Interesting Oscar nominated documentary about a family from Laos who emigrate to the US after their country's involvement with the Vietnam War (where the US dropped millions of bombs Laos). Co-directed by Thavisouk Phrasavath, who is the subject of the story, it's pretty fascinating at times, especially all of the "twists" that occur throughout. There are a few things I could have done without, near the beginning it shows a couple of flashbacks of Thavi in NY in the 80s, and I was confused by it. Only later does the film finally focuse on the family in NY in the 80s, that the original footage finally made sense. It's pretty amazing that this story has been filmed for the past 25 years or so.
½ January 30, 2009
Awwww yeah. I saw this MONTHS ago with the directors doing a Q&A after too. It's great. very personal movie that gives you a lot of knowledge about a forgotten people during the Vietnam war.
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