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La Promesse

9 customer reviews

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La Promesse + The Kid with a Bike (Criterion Collection) + L'enfant (The Child)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

La Promesse draws on the considerable documentary acumen of its directors, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne ("Rosetta"), to prove a revelation in narrative filmmaking. Shot on the outskirts of an industrial city in Belgium, the film follows Igor (J?©r?©mie R?©nier), the 15-year-old son of a single parent named Roger (Olivier Gourmet) who rents squalid apartments to recently arrived immigrants, many of them illegal. As Igor struggles to hold down odd jobs while assisting his father in crooked dealings, the Dardenne brothers plunge the audience into the thick of difficult issues--immigration, cultural and racial bias, bureaucratic injustices--without overtly politicizing or diminishing any of their characters. When Igor promises to help a young African woman, he finds he must choose between loyalty to his father and his own conscience. The beauty is in how the Dardenne brothers seem to share in the viewer's curiosity about the film's outcome, having captured a world so charged yet unadorned you feel the surprise of each new scene alongside the directors. An extraordinary film that bears repeated viewings. "--Fionn Meade"

Amazon.com

La Promesse draws on the considerable documentary acumen of its directors, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (Rosetta), to prove a revelation in narrative filmmaking. Shot on the outskirts of an industrial city in Belgium, the film follows Igor (Jérémie Rénier), the 15-year-old son of a single parent named Roger (Olivier Gourmet) who rents squalid apartments to recently arrived immigrants, many of them illegal. As Igor struggles to hold down odd jobs while assisting his father in crooked dealings, the Dardenne brothers plunge the audience into the thick of difficult issues--immigration, cultural and racial bias, bureaucratic injustices--without overtly politicizing or diminishing any of their characters. When Igor promises to help a young African woman, he finds he must choose between loyalty to his father and his own conscience. The beauty is in how the Dardenne brothers seem to share in the viewer's curiosity about the film's outcome, having captured a world so charged yet unadorned you feel the surprise of each new scene alongside the directors. An extraordinary film that bears repeated viewings. --Fionn Meade


Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jérémie Renier, Olivier Gourmet, Assita Ouedraogo, Jean-Michel Balthazar, Frédéric Bodson
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
  • Writers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
  • Producers: Luc Dardenne, Claude Waringo, Hassen Daldoul
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 19, 2002
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005UK01
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,447 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "La Promesse" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
If you haven't seen this one, well... Its emotional impact on me was devastating. I saw it when it opened, and a friend and I, who are normally quite talkative after a good movie, walked at least two city blocks afterwards before either of us said a word. I compare it in style to "The Dreamlife of Angels" (hand-held cameras, naturalistic acting, a plot that unfolds gradually and builds to a harrowing finale, and no musical score) and in theme to, of all things, "The Apartment" (main character is waist-deep in wrongdoing but has a crisis of conscience that forces him to re-evaluate himself and his actions). Please find a copy somehow, or go ahead and spend the money here -- I don't want Amazon to get angry with me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Scott D. Allen on February 17, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is not a warm fuzzy picture by any means, but it is film for people who love people and appreciate the higher instincts of mankind that transcend nationality, race, gender, and age. Does one follow instinctual bonds to family, or honor and committment to a worthy promise.
I absolutely loved this film...and so did my Parisian friends to whom I recommended it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith Johnson VINE VOICE on July 29, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Belgium documentary film makers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne deliver an unflinching glimpse into the horrors and exploitation of undocumented workers and the opportunistic people who prey on them in order to improve their own sordid, wretched lives. The directors also have an amazing eye for casting as all the actors are so natural that you think you are watching a documentary, rather than a compassionate piece of fiction.

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on October 12, 2006
Format: DVD
Documentary filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne bring a particularly convincing sense of real life captured on film with this their first fiction film. The hand-held camera and location settings and the abrupt edits that propel the story forward, together with a very unromanticized subject, make this fictional world completely believable as a slice of life lived by men and women on the fringes of law-abiding society. With young Igor (Jérémie Rénier), a teenager older than his years, at the center of the story, we learn of illegal aliens and those who profit by providing them with shelter and work in the gray urban landscape of a northern European city.

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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry from Brooklyn on January 19, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
We played La Promesse for our film society on a dark and snowy night. The response was sensational. Thinking people really seem to like this film; perhaps the straight-forward, no comments narrative allows us viewers to form our own opinions. This is a tough subject, told in a hard style, but it has the redemptive punch of the most hopeful Bressons (think Pickpocket or Women of the Boulogne Woods). The performance by Jeremie Renier is up there with anything Roddy McDowell did as a young actor; Olivier Gourmet is terrific in the ambiguity he brings to his role as the boy's father. In a very quiet and non-preachy way, this film talks to the future of Europe, the question of whether morality matters in a free market world, and the ties that family arouses in most of us. This is a great movie that sounds like it will be a drag. If you like this, look at Rosetta; you have probably already seen L'Enfant. If you're not a foreign language film buff, give it a try if you like Paul Shraeder at his most hopeful (American Gigolo; Light Sleeper) or John Boorman at his most idealistic (Beyond Rangoon; Emerald Forest). This will not disappoint you.
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