The Promise (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Drama, History
Director: Terry George
Distributor: eOne
Duration: 133 minutes

The Promise (DVD) – Movie Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Acting performances
Bad: A bit more context would have been nice
User Score
7.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

In The Promise, the love triangle between Mikael, Ana and Chris is an important aspect of the story. What the film is really about though, is the Armenian genocide in Turkey, at the end of the Ottoman Empire. The subject is quite controversial, as to this day, Turkey even denies there has been a genocide. It’s good to see that Hollywood doesn’t shy away from a subject such as this, and with the director being Terry George, known for his film Hotel Rwanda, the expectations are high.

The promise

Mikael Bogosian (Oscar Isaac) is a young apothecary in a small village in Turkey. Just like most of the village’s inhabitants, he is Armenian from descent. His dream is to go study medicine in Constantinopel, but for that, he needs money. That’s why he gets engaged to Maral (Angela Sarafyan), a girl from his village, as she brings a dowry which can pay for his studies. While Mikael doesn’t love Maral, he is convinced that he will grow to love her once they are married. Before they do get married, he is off to Constantinopel though, to start his studies.

In Constantinopel, Mikael stays with his uncle Mesrob (Igal Naor) and his wife and two daughters, as well as Ana Khesarian (Charlotte Le Bon), the governess of Mesrob’s daughters. From the moment Mikael laid eyes on Ana, he was in love with her, but his promise to Maral keeps him from making a move. Besides, Ana is in a relationship with Chris Myers (Christian Bale), an American journalist, so it would be indecent to make a move. For a while, all goes well in Constantinopel. Life is good, Mikael’s studies are going well, it couldn’t be better. But then, one night, the Turkish start to arrest Armenians, to deport them or even kill them. Mikael gets deported too, but manages to escape. It’s the start of a long journey full of misery, to try and find his family, and most of all Ana, back.

What starts off as a love triangle between Mikael, Ana and Chris, turns out to be much more than that. We were afraid at first that the focus would stay too much on this love story, as it gets quite some attention in the beginning of the film, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, the film follows Mikael’s journey back home, where you’ll see many quite explicit scenes that really show the cruelty of what is happening around him. The story is very well brought, yet as the Armenian genocide is such an important part of history, it would have been interesting to see more of the politics at the time, or a more global image, rather than just Mikael’s story.

Acting is on point in this movie. Oscar Isaac puts down a very convincing performance as Mikael, and together with Charlotte Le Bon, he manages to really draw you in. Le Bon had quite an interesting character to play, as Ana more than once proved to have more to her than just a pretty face. Christian Bale as journalist Chris Myers put down a true American character, with problems of his own, yet with his heart in the right place.

The extras include some deleted scenes, and further some clips in which the director and cast give a bit more information about the film and the historical background to it. These extras are definitely a good addition, yet they are all very much alike, so there is only few extra information given in the end. They’re a good start, but a bit more background would have been appreciated.

Conclusion

The promise is a film that shows two complete opposites: true love, but also a lot of bloodshed. The characters go through immense emotional rollercoasters, and Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon and Christian Bale all played their part wonderfully. While we would have liked a bit more historical background in the film, the personal experience of Mikael during the genocide certainly tells a strong story and will captivate you as a viewer. The love triangle adds an extra layer to the story that makes it easier to swallow, while still keeping the focus on the true subject of the film.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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The Promise (DVD) - Movie Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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