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(Dec 14, 2011)
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Top Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this film...and so did my Parisian friends to whom I recommended it.
The heart and soul of the piece is Igor portrayed by a stunning looking fifteen year old Jérémie Rénier (Summer Hours (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]) in an amazing first performance. Every good story needs a great villain and here it supplied by Igor's father Roger in a bravura performance by Olivier Gourmet (Rosetta [Region 2 Import - Non USA Format]). The lying, cheating, brutal Roger exploits everyone near him and even though he loves him, poor Igor is no exception.
The motherless boy has been pulled out of school under the pretense of an apprenticeship so his dad can use him to help run the family business of human trafficking. Absent of any moral teachings or decent role model, Igor is no angel himself:an expert forger of fake identities, purse snatcher, and lying to immigration officers. However, he is still a mechanically inclined 12 year old who snatches a few precious minutes to work on a motorized soap box type car with his friends and paints his dingy teeth with white-out to mimic the dazzling smiles of the Africans whose passports he is altering.Read more ›
"La Promesse" stars two of the Dardennes' regular actors, Olivier Gourmet and Jeremie Renier. Igor (Renier) is a 15-year-old delinquent who helps his father Roger (Gourmet) exploit African and Eastern European immigrants for profit. When one of their workers dies in an accident, Roger tries to cover it up, but Igor finds himself feeling concern for the dead man's widow and baby. Igor's budding conscience leads him to an agonizing point of no return.
"La Promesse" follows the usual pattern of the Dardennes' films: a plain, starkly realistic setting, shot mostly in claustrophobic closeup, with extreme situations and emotions leading to an ending in which no closure or resolution is possible. The actors could not be better; Gourmet is particularly fine as a despicable monster who has convinced himself he is only doing what he must to support his family. Simple and powerful, "La Promesse" will leave you with a heartache that will last for days.
Rénier's performance is remarkable, as is that of his unpleasant father played by Olivier Gourmet. The camera simply watches them without comment, functioning in an amoral universe, until a fatal accident brings about a sudden change of heart for the young Igor and a commitment, against all odds, to make right something that has gone horribly wrong. The movie avoids sentimentality and takes you relentlessly to an end that leaves us, the characters walking away, their dilemma unresolved. An excellent film for anyone who likes thoughtful renderings of real life concerns. See also the Dardenne's more recent film, "L'Enfant," also starring Renier.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie really wasn't that great. Let me just start by saying that there are French films out there that are just sublime. Read morePublished 29 days ago by samspennell
This is a unique project. No one comments about family, class, and immigration like the Dardennes brothers. You learn something new each time you watch it.Published 1 month ago by Mom with Ph.D.
This is miraculous film making, delivering compassion alongside cool, precise observation, sentiment without sentimentality.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
this is a modern-day account of slavery, and the moral awakening of a teenager. Very disturbing.
PS I share the reviewer's horror at the barbarity of animal... Read more
Effective and touching look at immigration and the consequences of driving it underground.Published 11 months ago by Johnny
A brutal world with a bright spark of a teenager. This is one of the first films of the Dardenne brothers, who mostly portray the conditions in an economically depressed region of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by P. Tey
Really good film from Belgium. A good real slice of life look at the real life of not only immigrants in the 90s from Eastern Europe and Africa but a Father and sons life and the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by A. Smith