The Betrayal (La Trahison) (2006)
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Critic Reviews for The Betrayal (La Trahison)
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Audience Reviews for The Betrayal (La Trahison)
As far as cinematic apologies go, this one doesn't come close to cutting it. French atrocities in Algiers are reduced to the occasional dislodging of villages and even rarer incidence of torture during an interrogation. Needless to say, this does not even begin to scratch the surface of the systematic brutalization of a people. An apology, however, is not what the film is after. Looking past the curious approach to the subject matter, the film is surprisingly good. It makes no moral judgments (on the side of the French of the Algerians, save for the previously mentioned whitewashing) and is so naturally acted, photographed and directed that it feels less like a film than a group of people interacting. There is no false drama, there are no twists or turns, there is not even any music. The film exists, we watch it, and it ends. In many ways it reminded be of Gus Van Sant's death trilogy, though much more anchored to a conventional narrative. The use of lighting, particularly, stands out. I cannot say the film is naturally lit (or else we would be seeing little but a black screen) but it satisfactorily conveys the illusion of natural lighting. Visibility is very reduced at night, to the point where we can barely see what is right in front. During daytime it is sunlight that prevails, covering the exteriors in an oppressively hot (and not unnatural) glow, and lighting the interiors ackwardly, as it filters through windows and under doorframes. I got no sense that the film willfully covered up French brutality in Algiers, merely that it had no desire to become an indictment of one side or the other. I cannot say I am comfortable that the film chose to 'balance out the equation' this way, though I certainly understand the artistic choice behind it. It is what it is and must be taken as such. Fun fact: Among the dozens of countries which Ernesto Guevara fought to liberate (from direct or indirect colonization) was Algiers.
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