The Betrayed is a tightly plotted, tense and effective thriller. The extremely limited locations and lack of whiz bang action put the focus squarely on the performances, particularly those of Melissa George and Oded Fehr. These two easily shoulder the burden and succeed in delivering a film that keeps the viewer interested and guessing until the end.
The story opens (after a few flashes of a recently wrecked car) with young mother Jaime (Melissa George) waking up in a small room in an abandoned warehouse. She is battered and bruised from a recent car wreck. Her young son Michael is nowhere to be seen. A mysterious man walks up to the locked door of the room and speaks to her through an intercom. What he has to tell her causes her to profoundly question her assumptions about her life up to this point.
Her kidnapper Alek, played by Oded Fehr, tells her that her husband Kevin (Christian Campbell) is not the humble restaurateur that she had thought, but an operative for a shadowy criminal organization, and has been for decades. In fact, Kevin has recently stolen forty million dollars from said organization, and they need it back within the next twelve hours, or various bad things will happen. The plot as it unfolds from this point is simple. Alek tries to convince Jaime that her husband has been lying to her for years, never really loved her, and that she ought to help him locate the stolen money. Jaime resists, doesn't want to believe this, and tries repeatedly to escape and save her son Michael, whom the mobsters are also holding prisoner.
The strength of The Betrayed is not sudden plot twists or manufactured conflicts, but rather strong characterizations, good performances and a compelling story line. George and Fehr work together quite well as the dumbfounded wife reassessing her life and the more sympathetic than he ought to be cold blooded gangster. Both give very good performances, with no false notes detectable. This is not over the top scene chewing, but realistic people reacting to a somewhat realistic situation. The challenges for Jaime are easy to identify with. How does one choose between remaining loyal to one's spouse, and saving the life of one's child? How much evidence would it take to convince us that our spouse has been incredibly dishonest from the start? The supporting cast is good as well, though no one has anywhere near as big a role as either George or Fehr. Even Alice Krige (perhaps not known for the subtlety of her performances) and Connor Levins as the young diabetic Michael do well in their relatively small parts.
While the plot has a few holes or unanswered questions, these are mostly minor and detract little from the enjoyment of the film. The pace is quick enough, and the discrepancies subtle enough, that the mind can glance over them and continue on enjoying the film. There is nothing particularly unique or astoundingly new being attempted here. The story springs from a long line of claustrophobic, close quarters thrillers. Execution is key in these cases, and this film is very well executed. Overall, The Betrayed is a small but very engaging film which shows that small budgets can still produce quality work with enough inspiration and talent. Here we have both.