For a sprawling weepy set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent genocide of the Armenian people, the fact that the standout moment in The Promise sees Charlotte Le Bon fighting off her Turkish attackers with vegetables probably isn’t the best of signs that Terry George’s drama is wholly successful in putting its message across.
Le Bon, Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale form the love triangle at the centre of the film, each providing perfectly passable performances that crave a better script. Contrivance and convention are ultimately what lets them down, with the story playing out exactly as you’d expect after seeing other films of its kind.
That said, there’s nothing within The Promise that makes it particularly painful to watch. In fact there are a number of powerful moments spread throughout, found primarily within the scenes of battle and murder that prove to be quite tense and heartbreaking in their brutality. The romance is quite sweet, the performances are serviceable and the action sequences are effective, but for a film that deals with the displacement and murder of an entire people, something which is still relevant today in places such as Syria, “just okay” really doesn’t do the subject matter justice.
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