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Review: The Betrayal

From Laos to Brooklyn, following a family's tragedy
By JASON O'BRYAN  |  April 7, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

Trailer of The Betrayal

As the subject, narrator, and director, with Ellen Kuras, of his own story, Thavisouk Phrasavath has created a film of meandering, almost accidental poignancy.

For more than 23 years, The Betrayal follows Phrasavath, his mother, and his seven siblings from the perils of war-torn Laos to their lives as refugees in Brooklyn. It watches them with a rare, kitchen-table intimacy as the layers of the family's innocence strip away one by one to expose a naïveté that would be charming if it weren't so tragic. Kuras's cinematography adds stylized beauty, with dreamy sequences of blowing leaves interspersed randomly among the destruction of war and the grime of the city.

The film at times feels aimless, and in a way it is. It's not about the CIA betrayal in Laos, anymore than it's about Phrasavath's father's infidelity. It's about all of this, waves of betrayal without a thesis, just a family whose story deserves to be told.

Related: In a Dream, Ring master, Review: Not Quite Hollywood, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , documentary, Ellen Kuras, Ellen Kuras,  More more >
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