Owen Gleiberman
November 19, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Betrayal

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
96 minutes
Limited Release Date
11/21/08
director
Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
distributor
The Cinema Guild
author
Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
genre
Documentary

We gave it a B-

In 1981, Thavisouk Phrasavath, his mother, and eight siblings — all survivors of the war in Laos — arrived in Brooklyn, where they’d been promised a home by U.S. officials. Ellen Kuras’ documentary The Betrayal jumps between the ’80s, when the family struggled to make a go of it (Phrasavath, who helped shoot this footage, is credited as codirector), and the present, when Phrasavath learns that his father, a CIA recruit and victim of Laotian ”reeducation” camps, is still alive and has a family in Florida. The past-and-present layering is a lot more resonant — and less sketchy — than the film’s theme of ”betrayal,” both familial and governmental. B?

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