A gripping drama that spans 30 years of recent Romanian history, “Betrayal” is solid arthouse fare.
It opens in 1948, with anti-communist journalist George Vlaicu (very well-played by Dutch actor Johan Leysen) writing a provocative article about the death of democracy in his country. For his pains, he serves 11 punishing years in a waterlogged prison cell.
In 1959, a smooth police inspector, played by Alexandru Repan, offers him a deal: He can go free if he signs a weekly statement, but is guaranteed he’ll never have to reveal in these statements anything the inspector doesn’t already know. Reluctantly, he agrees.
Once out of prison, he finds and marries his former typist, Laura (Mireille Perrier), who, unknown to him, also had been imprisoned for typing the piece he wrote. He continues to meet the inspector once a week, but otherwise all goes well, and he’s able to publish poetry and is acclaimed as the national poet. But when a friend tells him he plans to defect and is soon afterward killed, Vlaicu realizes he’s been used all along, and starts making plans to leave the country.
Filmed almost entirely in Romania (apart from scenes set in Paris near the end) but entirely spoken in French, this is a lucid and intelligent drama about the way a police state controls its artists. It boasts fine performances and top technical credits.