The Promise

"Very Good"

The Promise Review


The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Turkey has long denied that this took place, so the filmmakers take a rather soft approach to the story, setting out a romantic plotline with the genocide as a backdrop. So the resulting drama is somewhat uneven, but the events are so powerful that the film can't be ignored.

It opens in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a young Armenian studying medicine in Constantinople with a promised fiancee Maral (Angela Sarafyan) back home. Even so, he falls for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who shares his rural Armenian background. But she has a boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), who is investigating rumours of war as the Germans arrive to help the Turkish government round up its ethnic minorities. Mikael is soon arrested, but escapes from the work camp to return to his parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kevork Malikyan) and Maral. Meanwhile, Chris and Ana are trying to report the story of what's really happening, and Mikael joins them to help a group of orphan refugees.

Yes, this is a sweeping epic in which there's a lot going on, and it's filmed on a lavish scale. The characters' lives continually intersect throughout the story, and the intensity of the wartime atrocities is seriously powerful. On the other hand, this makes the four-sided romance feel like a melodramatic distraction. The actors are solid, but the earnest tone undermines any real emotional edge. Isaac is sincere and decent, Le Bon is strong and wilful, Bale is solid and cynical, and Sarafyan is lost in the shuffle. Aghdashloo, as always, provides wrenching support.

Things are spiced up a bit with starry cameos from Tom Hollander (as a prison inmate), Rade Serbedzija (as a firebrand local politician), Tamer Hassan (a nasty Turk), James Cromwell (a helpful American diplomat) and Jean Reno (a caring French admiral). But the film never quite gets the balance right between the persona drama and the historical events. That said, the depiction of what happened here is both important and resonant. Not only is it scary to see events that preceded the Nazi's Final Solution by decades, but many sequences also echo in today's headlines about people fleeing for their lives from Syria and North Africa. It's a stark reminder that humanity has never been very good at learning from history.

Watch the trailer for The Promise:



The Promise

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 132 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st April 2017

Distributed by: Open Road Films

Production compaines: Babieka, Wonderful Films, Survivor Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Eric Esrailian,

Starring: as Mikael Pogosian, as Ana Khesarian, as Chris Myers, as Reverend Dikran Antreassian, as Marta Boghosian, as Stephan, Marwan Kenzari as Emre Ogan, as Maral, as Garin, Numan Acar as Mustafa, Igal Naor as Mesrob, Milene Mayer as Yeva, as Faruk Pasha, Alicia Borrachero as Lena, as Harut, as Admiral Fournet, as Henry Morgenthau Sr., as Vartan Boghosian, Lucía Zorrilla as Tamar, Roman Mitichyan as Van, Armin Amiri as Captain Ali, Stewart Scudamore as Ismet Ogan, Andrew Tarbet as Pastor Merril, Aharon Ipalé as Dr. Nazim, Shnorhk Sargsyan as Komitas, Aaron Neil as Talaat Pasha, James Chanos as General Zyniker, Anthony Rotsa as Ahmet, as Brad, Àlex Maruny as Sharp Shooter 2

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