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La Promesse (The Promise)

La Promesse (The Promise) (1996)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 2,374

My Rating

Movie Info

A young man born into criminal circumstances is forced to deal with his conscience in this drama from Belgium. Roger (Olivier Gourmet) is a corrupt businessman who smuggles illegal aliens into Antwerp and protects them from the law in exchange for working with his construction company. However, Roger pays meager wages for back-breaking labor and charges aliens appallingly high rent for substandard housing. Roger has a 15-year-old son, Igor (Jeremie Renier), who has learned from his father to

Aug 6, 2002

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (27) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (1) | DVD (5)

The film is entirely within the caught-on-the-run tradition of cinema verite, which makes it all the grittier and its conclusion all the more wrenching.

February 21, 2001
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The conflicts involved are intense and absorbing, proving that compelling moral dilemmas make for the most dramatic cinema.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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The Dardenne brothers, as shown by their empathic casting, their very choice of theme, have confessed to a burden. They believe in hope.

February 21, 2001
The New Republic
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Ranks with the great European art-house classics about childhood betrayed and innocence lost.

February 21, 2001
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Speaks volumes about how we treat other human beings and what it means to truly grow up.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: ReelViews
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Almost everyone should be able to identify with the wrenching moral quandary facing Igor.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Dardennes' film is unfussy and the revelations small but that is why it is so affecting.

January 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

(The Dardennes') "first" film has attained a special place in the hearts of critics and other viewers. Its reputation has not been exaggerated in the least.

August 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

The Dardenne brothers feature debut is a stunning achievement, an emotionally powerful coming of age tale, which shows that humanism can prevail in the harshest economic conditions.

June 30, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

This is a raw, intense, and engaging anatomy of a 15-year-old boy's moral coming of age in a bleak Belgian town.

March 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A meaningless pseudo-expose of the plight of immigrant workers.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews | Comment (1)
Internet Reviews

This is a grim morality tale that can't help putting you in someone else's shoes, wondering what you would do if you were in the same situation.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A troubling, offbeat and somewhat downbeat drama with no easy answers, with a stark, realistic style and some very good performances.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A penetrating coming-of-age story, one that argues that adulthood begins with the emergence of moral convictions.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Impressively written and directed by Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

It is an experience I would recommend, if you believe in films that plumb the murkiest depths of the human condition.

February 21, 2001
Jam! Movies

Not for every taste, but definitely an import worth seeking out.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

A work of great emotional depth and impact.

February 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for La Promesse (The Promise)

[font=Century Gothic]"La Promesse" is about Roger(Olivier Gourmet) who runs a thriving business smuggling, housing and exploiting illegal aliens in Belgium with his son, Igor(Jeremie Renier). Igor works as an apprentice to a mechanic(he pockets a woman's wallet while working there) and in his spare time makes his own personal go-cart. One of the latest arrivals is Assita(Assita Ouedraogo) from Burkina Faso who is a young mother and married to one of the tenants, Amidou(Rasmane Ouedraogo). During a raid by labor inspectors, Amidou falls from scaffolding and is gravely wounded. He has Igor promise to take care of his wife and child. Amidou dies after Roger refuses to take him to a hospital. Father and son conspire to cover up the death.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"La Promesse" takes a neo-realist approach in telling this story. Since the movie is told mostly from Igor's point of view, this does limit its depth. It is still a good dramatic movie but it lacks the emotional resonance to make it truly memorable. And it is interesting to imagine what Igor would be like without such a rotten role model like Roger...[/font]
November 3, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Wow! Another great film from the Dardenne. I truly believe that they are incapable of making anything less than a gripping tale.
February 24, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

A grim but hopeful film that shows us the birth of a consciousness.
June 6, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Das Versprechen (DE)
  • La Promesse (UK)
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