Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise (2016)
Rent The Promise on Amazon Video
Written by: Terry George, Robin Swicord
Directed by: Terry George
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Set in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, a love triangle forms between medical student Michael, Paris transplant Ana, and a renowned American journalist based in Paris near the beginning of te Armenian genocide during World War I.

I recommend this more on the history revealed than the merits of the movie itself. It's a fine movie on it's own, but the subject outshines everything else. While the plot is fictional, the movie depicts actual events that are denied by Turkey even today.
The movie is technically proficient, but I wanted more from the characters. They don't do enough, instead relying on the story to carry the movie, which it does to a large degree.
Watch it.

The subject is intriguing, but the characters are a bit flat. I applaud the film for revealing a piece of history that's unfamiliar to most. The Turkish government expelled and massacred Armenians in the Ottoman empire. The Turks entered World War I on Germany's side and were worried that the Armenians would help Russia. The Promise doesn't delve into the origins, merely depicting the results from an Armenian man's point of view

Oscar Isaac plays Michel, an Armenian studying medicine in Turkey. He meets an Armenian woman from France and falls for her, despite her American boyfriend. The movie does a good job of building his infatuation, but the fact that he's already betrothed doesn't play a large part.
While he agreed to the marriage just to get a dowry and attend medical school, it makes it difficult to like Michel. This could have played up him being homesick or just needing someone.
The movie tries hard to set up the broad strokes of the story, but misses on the characterization. Ana doesn't resist much.

This made me think of Dr. Zhivago (1965) as it is in a similar time period with similar themes. The Promise isn't as epic or as intriguing, but it did make me research the Armenian Genocide.

The movie generated controversy by way of with an unusually high number of reviews  upon its limited film festival debut. It quickly garnered tens of thousands of one star reviews, speculation being a mass movement orchestrated to suppress the subject. This prompted a retaliation of ten star reviews. Many people feel very strongly about the subject, and IMDB is a strange forum for such reactions.

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