Without question, Annarie Boor's film "Icon of Betrayal" will appeal to any fan of the slow-burning thriller. It's got a relaxed feel about it that sets up the atmospheric, and there's definitely a hint of classic film noir within its near ninety-minute length. Betrayal? Mystery? Perhaps one more than the other - but that will be for you, the viewer, to decide. One thing is certain, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this film, and if you're a genre buff, so will you.
"Icon of Betrayal" uses a format that is not entirely new to tell its story, but one I feel is not used nearly enough. Anyone familiar with the way "House of Cards" is presented, where the main character speaks directly to the audience, will instantly recognize Boor's presentation style. Reid, played excellently by Isabel Nesti, directly addresses those watching the film as a way to progress the story - and at times, she even lets us know what she's thinking. It's a hard format to use correctly but works well here as a way to let us know what Reid is doing or pondering, without having to rely solely on the actions and reactions of the characters. A film such as this, which pretty much takes place in one location, needs this sort of edge to keep its audience interested and focused. Now, mix that aspect in with the chapter by chapter inspired narrative, and you end up with that "film noir" kind of spattering.
But what is this movie actually about? Well, reader, I'm not going to go into many revealing details, but I will say this. "Icon of Betrayal" opens with a bloody knife and closes with a smiling star. This is a film about the world of acting aimed especially at the higher-profile stars of the industry. Greedy and scheming managers, or in this case, a manager in the singular? This film definitely has that. Jealousy in its ugliest form, conniving, setups, and even death. There are also some allusions towards the sexualized nature of the industry and inappropriate behavior - but these are only hints and are not the main driver of this film. The short version minus all the details that make this flick so damn cool? Actress Reid Donovan wants to get back on top and will use her smarts to do it. That's the bare-bones story here... and it's a great one.
I'm sure by now you've guessed that I consider the acting in this film one of the high points. Sure, the story is a well-written one but is totally reliant on the performances of the cast. I couldn't find any significant flaws with any of the performances; even the sometimes more mundane feeling dialog felt real. Dry and nuanced. I'm happy to simply say well done to all. Definitely something I'm not used to writing when considering low-budget film, and it reminded me that indie film really can still be great.
What really struck me was that this film took place within one location and, for all intents and purposes, should have been a snooze-fest. And yet, it was anything but. Granted, "Icon of Betrayal" was never meant to be a high energy action film, but even so, single location movies can be tricky to nail. In this case, keeping things simple worked well for the production as a way to keep the moody nature alive and kicking. This type of movie relies heavily on atmosphere, and every little thing to compliment the narrative is welcome.
When it's all said and done, "Icon of Betrayal" will not be for everyone. Those looking for a mile a minute edit structure, action, bombs, gore, and all that sort of thing - look elsewhere. Boor's film is an exercise in slower, tension building filmmaking; a textbook example of how to do it right. For those like me who enjoy this kind of movie - this was a great one! Four stars out of five - well done.