There are a few ways to assess Burning Betrayal. One is that it is a predictable fare that has found an adaptation to the screen because of the success of 365 Days. The second is, why shouldn’t it? The thing to understand about stories like 365 Days, Twilight, the After series, or even Burning Betrayal is that there was a time when they were really spoken about in hush-hush tones. It was largely considered ‘chick lit,’ and therefore, for a myriad of reasons, it was delegated to the ‘intellectually inferior’ movie section and treated more like a guilty pleasure than a serious story. We are not making a case for it but pointing out why these movies with arguably terrible plots have found such popularity.
The fact is that the books that all these movies were based on were purely escapist literature. At the center of them all is a woman who finds a mysterious and attractive man who is willing to move heaven and earth for her. Their relationship will mostly be toxic, and the couple will always have communication issues, but it is never a love story as much as a fantasy that unfolds through different situations. That is why we find that there are always two best friends of the female lead: one is a girl whose personality is the exact opposite of the heroine, and the other is a boy who is secretly in love with her. Then swoops in the hero with his many secrets, but with time and romance, these two end up being the ‘it’ couple.
We knew what we were signing up for when we started watching Burning Betrayal, and it did not give us even a single surprise. But it did deliver a disappointment. The thing is that the actors, Giovanni Lancelloti (Babi) and Leandro Lima (Marco), are objectively good-looking people but have terrible chemistry. That is a disappointment when that was supposed to be the plot to begin with. It was never about the mystery or the breakup but about how two people, who were in vulnerable positions, were going to learn to be together, all through a plot that wasn’t focused on anything too deep. In such a case, the chemistry between Babi and Marco should have been jumping off the screen. In the absence of that, there is nothing else to the story.
People can disagree with us, but we firmly believe that the only reason for the success of Twilight, 365 Days, and the After series is that the leads had visible tension between them that the audience could sense, and this meshed beautifully with their ease around their characters. The plots were never that deep, and the casting was the only proof that the audience had been understood and not taken for granted. It is the lack of this that failed Fifty Shades of Grey, which only enjoys its cult status thanks to the books and not the lackluster performances of Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. The chemistry is the insight for these stories, and that is the only thing that brings the audience. In the absence of that, the movie becomes a useless venture.
Secondly, we understand the necessity of giving a stunning date fashion moment in such a movie, but when going on a date that is geared at giving someone a second chance, the idea is to always look effortless and not come out all guns blazing. The writers should have kept that in mind. And lastly, while we all knew who the villain was from a mile away, a little more effort on his makeup and clothes could have added an element of wanting to believe in his innocence. That man looked guilty right away.
Coming to the character of Marco Ladeia, did we have to see him in the light of Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre)? We are not contesting the tired trope of the woman saving the man from his emotional troubles, but this was not even a problem that demanded too much from Babi. Where is the expected toxicity because, in the absence of that, what was Marco bringing to the table other than how he looked? We must also make a special mention of Patty. Other than the fact that she was the most interesting character, her purpose in the show was to highlight that Babi was not boring but simply more level-headed in contrast to her. As much as we enjoyed her character, it is necessary to remember that she wasn’t written as a real woman but simply as a contrast. She deserved better, but if she got that, the entire film would be a different story, and everyone would be making different choices, including calling the police when someone breaks into their house.
On a different note, perhaps the makers of Burning Betrayal were thinking that they were going to be showing some representation of women’s feelings in a relationship or otherwise. They are not wrong, but they are also not right in the way they think. The entirety of the story is simply an overblown figment of imagination. None of it is what women want in reality, and if they did, therapy would be recommended. If the makers had kept that in mind, the fantasy element of the movie would have gotten more attention. The story is from Babi’s perspective, and not once did we understand when the attraction turned to love or even became big enough to promise each other such things. We cannot believe that we are saying this, but 365 Days had better progress in the relationship than this. Essentially, all the criticism for the film is just centered around one aspect, which is that the actors don’t have chemistry. If only that had been taken care of, we wouldn’t have cared about the loopholes in their love story, the predictability of the mystery, or even how frustrating the actual role of the best friend was. It would have all been forgiven if only this thing had been taken care of. Burning Betrayal won’t be the last movie of its kind, but we certainly hope that others learn from the mistakes of this one.