Intergenerational conflict refers to a misunderstanding that is between individuals or groups from different age groups and commonly and typically occurs between children and their parents. The outcome of such conflicts and differences of opinions can sometimes lead to estrangement and tragically-violence. It is this topic and many others that is explored in director, Travis Romero’s ambitious film entitled, Treachery.
Treachery tells the tale of a reunion between an obviously estranged father and son set against the backdrop of an impending wedding and the eventual inclement weather that forces them and their significant others to confront a dark secret fueled by a dark desire in a remote upscale cabin. This simple description of the story line of the film is similar to wood that has been cut, handcrafted, stained and eventually finished with sealer. We are first introduced to the beauty of the surface, but eventually we begin to examine the finished product and notice the imperfections that are hidden by the sealing agent.
The first and one of the most engaging aspects of the film is noticed when one views the first images of the film. Director, Travis Romero immediately establishes the pace of his film to mirror the rhythm of life itself. This will more than likely shock most viewers because of the constant exposure to the frenetic edits and movements of most contemporary films and television productions. It is a brilliant choice on the part of Romero because it is akin to that of a burning candle. We know the candle will eventually be extinguished from the lack of wax and sometimes a misdirected breeze, but we just do not know-when! It is this wonderfully unsettling atmosphere that is a tribute to his sure hand as a director who will receive notice for all of his decisions that he had undertaken when he had filmed Treachery.
A director is similar to a commanding officer in a branch of the military. All soldiers below the commanding officer must report and follow orders, but the best of commanders will always heed the words of those under him. Director, Romero obviously listened to his actors because it this element, above all others, that elevates Treachery beyond the usual dramatic thriller. Actor and director, Michael Biehn has and continues to enjoy a legendary run as a force in the entertainment industry. Movie fans can instantly recall many of his classic portrayals of complicated and sometimes conflicted characters he has graced the screen with. Biehn once again ignites the screen with the morally conflicted and damaged patriarch, Henry. Biehn imbues the character with reprehensible character traits such as a lack of loyalty to not only his son, but to his girlfriend. Despite this and many other questionable flaws, Biehn’s Henry captures us because he is so real and he also realizes these flaws and tries to bury them in an internal struggle to control his own moral soul with his habit of drinking excessively. It is a subtle, but powerful performance that will linger with you long after the film has completed its tale.
Treachery’s cast includes veterans such as the aforementioned, Michael Biehn and fresh faced and relative newcomers such as Matthew Ziff. Ziff portrays, Nathan who is the estranged son of Biehn’s Henry. It is their relationship that is the raison d’etre of the film and if either actor failed in their portrayals, then the film would have failed also. It is Nathan as essayed by Matthew Ziff that is the candle of the film. Ziff begins to slowly become unpredictable and the actor reflects this with his body language and his eventual eye contact that he lacked initially when he spoke to his father. The actor has astonished this reviewer with his amazingly sensational portrait of a seemingly lost young man who has allowed his father to mold and shape him as he wishes. His growing realization that his father damages him with a grave betrayal is the film’s breakout performance that will win Ziff much deserved kudos. Indeed-the performance is such a standout that this columnist was often reminded of such past greats as Montgomery Clift and James Dean. Matthew Ziff is an actor to keep an out for as he will receive offers simply because of his powerhouse performance in Treachery.
Actors cannot function in a vacuum and need a solid foundation to build upon. Treachery was also written by director, Travis Romero. The story is an examination of moral lapses that most will confront, but sometimes do not overcome. Romero also examines conflicts between sons and fathers that arise out of parental expectations and sometimes-the need some parents feel that they should shape their children’s lives, so they can have a better one than they did. The heartbreaking tragedy that Romero illustrates in his film is that time is perhaps the only diplomat that can broker a treaty between the generations and sometimes the treaty is realized at a tragic price.
Treachery is not a perfect film, but what the film lacks is actually an item that ultimately is a testament to the fine piece of cinema that is truly turned out to be. This reviewer found the running time of the film to be too short and it truly left me wanting more and the best art will always share this common issue. Treachery is film not to be missed.