"The Promise": Movie Review

Updated on May 7, 2017
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Promise
The Promise | Source

Setting a cinematic love story against the backdrop of a major historical event is always a dicey proposition. There’s a handful of times it’s been done well, but more often than not the historical event gets pushed to the backseat or that the relationship angle becomes a silly distraction in what is otherwise a powerful and necessary film.

The latter is unfortunately the case with The Promise, from Hotel Rwanda director Terry George. Written by George, alongside Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), it ends up being a lot closer to Michael Bay’s 2001 misguided dreck Pearl Harbor than it does to, say, Doctor Zhivago or Casablanca.

The first major feature film to spotlight the 1915 Armenian Genocide, The Promise is undoubtedly important and has indeed received admiration and support from Hollywood big-shots like George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio for openly presenting such an overlooked part of world history, but it ultimately gets too hung up in an inconsequential love triangle that its main purpose is diluted.

Oscar Isaac stars as Michael Boghosian, an aspiring medical student in a small Armenian town. On the eve of World War I he gets engaged to a local girl and uses the dowry to fund his studies. Once in Constantinople, though, he meets Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who is seeing Associated Press reporter Chris Myers (Christian Bale). Ana and Michael, naturally, fall in love just as Turkey enters the war and begins systematically exterminating Armenians.

To be sure, there is no shortage of attention paid to the genocide that is going on around (and to) Michael and Ana. Director George, along with cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (The Finest Hours), never hesitates to show the awful truth (which Turkey continues to deny even to this day). The moments of historical drama are compelling and often horrifying; it’s only when muddled together with the love triangle that the impact lessens. It’s almost as if you’re watching a TV documentary only to have your dog sit on the remote and inadvertently change the station to a soap opera.

Isaac, for his part, continues to affirm his standing as one of the more bright and talented actors at work today. He is given the monumental task of anchoring the film, and he pulls it off with a deep and moving performance. And Bale, though playing a largely one-note character, also succeeds. He even makes Myers moderately sympathetic, despite the script’s essentially placing him as the antagonist. Le Bon is less effective, however, and often seems out of place. And it doesn’t help matters that she is saddled with the task of playing the object of affection in a storyline that will cause more eye-rolls than swoons.

The Promise winds up as a moderate success, if only because it reminds moviegoers of a dark point in history that hasn’t received nearly the attention it deserves. It has its heart in the right place, despite focusing far too much on affairs of the heart.

Rating

3/5 stars

'The Promise' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)