Finally saw fascinating BETRAYAL revival. SPOILERS GALORE
Posted by: lordofspeech 10:47 pm EST 12/03/19

I went. Very interesting.

Ruminations with SPOILERS GALORE here.

Robert (the husband) is the best part and Hiddelston was magnetic. His choice to make Robert feel everything so deeply but so reservedly, as if he were the “Prince of Catatonia” to whom Jerry refers in the final scene, rooted the play and the marriage in a torturously bleak universe.
She seemed in increasing bitterness throughout, even angry, as if (it appeared to me) she were imprisoned like the glorious gazelle she was in a marriage with a brilliant but emotionally deficient man.
I kinda liked that they added the little girl for Jerry to throw up in the air (though it maybe better serves the text as a stand-alone poetic description), and, in fact, all the director’s tricky little mise-en-scenes and rotating set-pieces were pleasantly diverting.

A beautiful set. (And that’s the sort of moorless set I would’ve liked for THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM.)
But I think it was altogether too spare to have only two chairs for the duration.
Call me contrary, but I missed the visual elements (curtains, etc.) for Emma’s adulterous home with Jerry. That “home” is not just made of words. It’s a five year long honeymoon cottage. And it has to feel like it means something to her.

Jerry was rather ordinary, I thought. Which is a valid choice. Maybe that’s what she needs. I think there’s evidence in the text that Jerry is less classy than the pair, that he strives more and that grand gestures and grand passions come naturally to him. He’s Pinter as a Kowalski force of nature in their birdcage. That’s why she makes the leap.
I especially missed that, in the final scene, he is meant to stand on the bed amidst the guests’ coats to proclaim his rapturous seduction of her.

Overall, it was definitely “staged” to within an inch of its life.
But it didn’t rip me apart. (Upon seeing it this time, I see how it really could be the woman’s play. This romance is her only way out of the marriage which is strangling her heart. By the end of the play, she is collaterol damage.)

And, as I feel to be with the text in itself, these people are not so much fun to spend the evening with, even leaving aside the meanness of the adultery itself.

One needs to believe in the richness and fatedness of the romance and see her die inside when Jerry says that one ought not to change one’s life. (Adding Hiddleston circling them with the girl on his lap was too much of an underscore for that scene. It’s the scene where she first realizes Jerry is not “with” her, and we need to see her hopes dashed.)

A very beautiful event overall.

The movie is excellent. Brilliant Jeremy Irons as Jerry. Peerless Ben Kingsley as Robert.

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