Richard Drumm witnesses The Betrayal. Nel and Mark’s marriage is on the rocks. Nel’s best friend, Alice, is madly in love with her. As Nel starts questioning her feelings for Alice, Mark’s own issues unravel, changing all of their lives forever.
Written, co-directed – with Natasha Waugh (Terminal) – and starring Kamila Dydyna, The Betrayal is a female and LGBT-focused short which touches on elements such as sexual identity and domestic violence within the story of a marriage break-up. Rounding out the cast along with Dydyna are Mark McAuley (Vikings) and Miriam Devitt (Running Commentary, Food Fight). As her partner’s violent reactions escalate, Nel (Dydyna) finds herself increasingly drawn toward a new romantic possibility. However, this brings about its own dangers.
The film is co-directed by Natasha Waugh from Fight Back Films, with cinematography by Gosia Zur (Monged), costume design by Gwen Jeffares-Hourie, and, on the whole, the quality of the production for a short on this scale has to be commended. Some excellent location work combined with Zur’s cinematography lends the film an accomplished aesthetic for the modestly-budgeted piece.
Strong performances from the two female leads and solid work from the two directors shows an assured confidence from the cast and crew toward the project. Being a little on the long side of short allows time for the narrative’s more dramatic elements to be drawn out to a more satisfying degree and the pace is aided by a surprisingly robust soundtrack. It features tracks from Ryan Vail’s debut album “For Every Silence”, Conor Walsh’s “The Front”, tracks by OCHO and most notably, “Martha’s Dream” by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
The choice to end on a small cliff-hanger – while successful in leaving a strong impression and closing visual – does mean eschewing the often tightly self-contained narrative of many shorts and replacing it with something more open-ended and narratively unsatisfying. But this lack of clean resolution fits with the themes explored while keeping with the film’s decision to mercifully not draw any hard lines or conclusions regarding the likes of the characters’ sexuality. The uncertainly feels truer to life even if that comes at a price. Other elements, like the glitter-drenched dream sequence, add a novelty and charm to the otherwise tightly controlled visuals.
While arguments could be made for it being either a little longer or a little shorter, it remains a strong piece and the product of a carefully-chosen crew working very well together and elevated by strong leads and ambitious scale to its production. The very apparent attention paid to music choice and post-production generally reflects particularly well on the filmmakers.
The Betrayal is currently available to rent or buy on VOD through Distrify: https://weipix.com/