Betrayal Review

A nightclub owner falls for a beautiful double agent in 1943 Oslo, in this 2009 Norwegian film out today from Optimum.

Oslo, 1943. Tor Lindblom (Fritjov Såheim) runs the Club Havana, a nightclub frequented by wealthy industrialists and leading Nazis. Tor also has a lucrative business supplying the Nazis with contraband liquor and cigarettes, cement and steel. He is in love with Eva (Lene Nystrøm), who unknown to him is a double agent working for both the Gestapo and the British. Events take a dramatic turn when Dr Walter (Jockel Tschiersch) arrives from the Reich General Auditors’ Office and starts investigating Tor’s business affairs. The story is told in flashback by an older Eva (Michelle Phillips), living in California in 1993.

There have been a number of films in recent years returning to themes of wartime guilt, and Betrayal (Svik) is Norway’s turn. While it’s certainly a watchable film that won’t waste your hour and a half, it’s not on the same level as the German Downfall or the Austrian The Counterfeiters. Despite being shot in Scope, there’s something flat and televisual about Håkon Gundersen’s direction, and the characterisation is a little thin and ultimately lacking in interest. The story does pick up a head of steam in its second half, but by then it’s hard to care much Good production design and camerawork are pluses.

The Disc: Optimum’s DVD release is encoded for Region 2 only.

The DVD is in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and anamorphically enhanced. It begins in black and white, with the frame pillarboxed into 4:3 for some archive footage, before the picture expands to its full width and goes into colour. The film is somewhat darkly lit, but the colours seem true and blacks solid – what you should expect from a DVD transfer of a new film.

There is a choice of soundtracks: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround (2.0). The latter is the default and is mixed louder. The sound mix is pretty much front and centre for the most part, with the surrounds used for ambience and for the music score. However, in some sequences, such as a nighttime chase and the scenes on the train towards the end, the soundstage opens up, with directional gunfire. Most of the dialogue is in Norwegian and German, with the Californian framing sequences and some voiceover from Michelle Phillips in English. English subtitles are fixed and are provided for the non-English dialogue only. The film – at least in this version – has its credits sequences and main title in English.

The only extra is the theatrical trailer, in non-anamorphic 2.40:1, running 1:51. This is evidently a Norwegian trailer as it calls the film Svik.


Updated: Jan 17, 2011

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