Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte le Bon star in the Terry George-directed film “The Promise,” a romantic film set in the Armenian genocide.
We find ourselves before a movie “The promise” as spectacular as it is warm. Full of great intentions and good choices that do not achieve the slightest catharsis in any of the topics it touches except perhaps raising awareness about a catastrophic event: the Armenian genocide. A theme that clearly should have been the main reason for the film but was nevertheless relegated to a background and subplot starring Christian Bale. The romance, no matter how well interpreted it is by the couple Oscar Isaac and Charlotre le Bon, does not even manage to awaken a feeling of empathy.
Synopsis “The Promise”
At the dawn of the First World War, the Armenian Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) is promised in marriage to his future wife Deer (Angela Sarafyan) in exchange for receiving the family’s dowry in advance in order to pursue a medical degree and thus practice as a doctor in the remote Turkish town where they live.
Once in Istanbul, Michael will meet Ana (Charlotte the good), of Armenian culture, who maintains a relationship with the American journalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale), sent to Turkey to document the effervescent geopolitical news.
The Ottoman Empire is on the brink of collapse and cultural tension between Muslim Turks and ethnic minorities, such as Christian Armenians, is on the rise, encouraged by the Turkish government who hopes to profit from oppression.
Criticism of the film “The promise”
When the background is more interesting than the proposed story, and the subplot attracts much more attention than the romantic drama posed in the foreground, the proposal can be untenable. Terry George’s “The Promise” is kept afloat thanks to the amount of cinema that is within the film. It is sustained and moves forward thanks to the work of each and every one of the teams that make a production of this magnitude possible.
There is a lot of cinema, yes, because the photography is attractive, the locations are brilliant and the setting has been taken care of in detail. The almost one hundred million dollars that were spent in the production look good and were necessary to move a whole group of professionals ranging from those who appear on screen, actors, figuration and specialists; passing through those who leave their work on the screen, (the entire art and photography team); until reaching those who could not work without them (electrical, catering …).
What is obvious is that if “The promise” did not have a fantastic multicultural cast, “The promise” would be sunk from almost the first minutes and inevitably from its middle. Unfortunately, the last few minutes, where there should be an emotional explosion (or whatever fits in a tremendous outcome), not even God will save them.
Too many spotlights appear in the script signed by Robin Swift (The curious case of Benjamin Button, Matilda) and Terry George (In the name of the Father). On the one hand is the romantic story starring Oscar Isaac and Charlotte the good -two Armenians in a Turkish world-; on the other, the journalistic and war history represented by Christian Bale -a journalist who risks his life to tell the world the reality of a masked genocide-; and finally we have the historical-dramatic background -all the historical events-, the main engine of the film, through which all the characters run. All three, objects of decent juggling, are kept in enough motion to hold the audience’s attention but barely passable to impress anyone. There are no surprises. There is no emotion beyond that which the interpreters manage to start – there is Bale challenging the German-Turkish “alliance”, the interpretive generosity of Charlotte le Bon and Oscar Isaac, as well as the dedication of the rest of the interpreters.
For the rest, “The promise”, without becoming a disaster, moves back and forth on an argument that is as expected as it is foreseeable, with little room or room for maneuver. A film so limited in possibilities that, if it had focused on one of its strongest points (the plot of Oscar Isaac based on a single objective of the character; or the plot of Christian Bale fighting with the Ottoman regime; or the Armenian exodus and all the vicissitudes that the ethnic group went through) could have given rise to something much more intense, firm and interesting.
However, the film can be seen and must be on the big screen since, as I have said, “The promise” shines more than remarkably in all fields of film production.
The production of the film by each of the departments is impeccable.
The photography is more than remarkable.
Although it does not sink, the film, despite a promising start, fails to navigate properly.
The director, Terry George, has a mania for specialists and makes it clear by excluding them from the credit titles.
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Criticism of the film ‘The promise’