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La Promesse (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1996)

Jeremie Renier , Luc Dardenne , Jean-Pierre Dardenne  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeremie Renier
  • Directors: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0083V2W54
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,911 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by Alain Marcoen
  • Conversation between film critic Scott Foundas and filmmakers
  • New interviews with actors Jeremie Renier and Olivier Gourmet
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones

  • Editorial Reviews

    This is the breakthrough feature from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Kid with a Bike), who would go on to become a force in world filmmaking. The brothers brought the unerring eye for detail and the compassion for those on society’s lowest rungs developed in their earlier documentary work to this absorbing drama about a teenager (Summer Hours’ Jérémie Renier) gradually coming to understand the implications of his father’s making a living off of illegal alien workers. Filmed in the Dardennes’ industrial hometown of Seraing, Belgium, La promesse is a brilliantly economical and observant tale of a boy’s troubled moral awakening.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age boy developing conflicts with father September 9, 2012
    Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
    Superb coming of age film in which a pause, driven by rising consciousness, leads a young boy to develop conflicts with his father, and to engage in autonomous decision-making of right over wrong. The film is devoid of sentimentalism or saccharine actions. Reminds of Jerzy Grotowski's poor theater in which the set is stripped of ornamentation. The camera is always moving, keeping close contact with the diverse characters. Great film with impeccable acting and directing.
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    4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking, moralistic drama December 1, 2012
    The Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, have created a good number of award-winning films.

    From the 2002 film "The Son" (winner of the "Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival), 2005 film "The Child" (winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), 2008 film "Lorna's Silence" (winner of "Best Screenplay" at the Cannes Film Festival) and most recently with their 2011 film "The Kid with a Bike", which won the Grand Prize of the Jury for "Best Film" at the Cannes Film Festival.

    With films that are highly anticipated for their quality writing and direction, back in the 1980′s, the Belgian duo were known for their documentaries. And with their 1987 film "Falsch", the Dardenne Brothers had the opportunity to direct a major feature 1992 film, "Je pense a vous".

    And the film didn't do well.

    Suffice to say, the film would go against everything that the Dardenne Brothers enjoyed. Having to be on a tight schedule preventing key reshoots, budgetary inconveniences and not shooting a scene in order. The experience turned the Dardenne Brothers off and both discussed that if they do a film, they do things by their own terms, even if it means shooting a low-budget film.

    So, in 1996, the Dardenne brothers worked on "La Promesse" (The Promise). A film in which they had complete control over. No need for expensive equipment, they will shot with a handheld camera. No need for spending a lot of money on talent, they would work with unknown talent. And no more having to shoot scenes in different order.

    And with this film, it earned them a Cesar nomination for "Best Foreign Film" and winning the Brussels International Film Festival for "Best Belgian Film".
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    5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is something you have to feel… April 23, 2014
    The gritty world of the Dardenne brothers is one that often takes simple situations, familial situations, common occurrences and then spins them out of control in a panic as the central characters begin to make questionable decisions. ‘La Promesse’ is no different. At its core, this is a sharply drawn out morality tale that raises questions of loyalty, morality and conscience in a way that feels imbedded in humanity and delivers a truly heartbreaking blow to the audience.

    The film tells the tale of Igor, a young and impressionable boy who harbors some secrets for his father, Roger, who runs an apartment complex he rents out to illegal immigrants in an effort to use them for cheap work. Roger is constantly on edge, awaiting an inevitable bust, and because of this his son is unable to fully function because he is always at his father’s beck and call. When a building inspector causes panic amongst some illegal workers, an accident happens and a worker is found dead. Roger is not ready to divulge the depths of his governmental deception, so he hides the body and lies to the deceased’s wife in order to make it all go away. Igor knows the truth though, and his conscience begins to ware on him, especially when he starts to form a bond of sorts with the dead man’s widow.

    The film is unforgettable, really. It manages to ask so many questions and delve so deeply without ever once resorting to manipulating or force feeding us values. Instead, we simply observe, and it all falls into place. Jeremie Renier is exceptional as the young Igor, full of diluted innocence, but it is Olivier Gourmet that really steals the show as the corruptible Roger. His earnestness pervades the entire film and lingers long after the film has finished.

    This morality tale is well, well worth your time.
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    5.0 out of 5 stars A classic tragedy. March 8, 2014
    I've seen most of the Dardenne Brothers' movies by now--"The Son," "The Child," "The Kid with a Bike"--but "La Promesse" is my favorite of a very distinguished group of films. The Dardennes have staked out a very particular cinematic territory--the lives of criminals, bums and down-and-outers in the dreary industrial town of Liege, Belgium. From that they have created a distinctive, pure, intense cinematic style, in which their characters are presented with the starkest, most painful moral choices possible. It's Greek tragedy, as funneled through Vittorio de Sica and Robert Bresson.

    "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.
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