La Promesse (The Promise) Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ November 3, 2005
[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]
Super Reviewer
February 24, 2012
Wow! Another great film from the Dardenne. I truly believe that they are incapable of making anything less than a gripping tale.
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2010
A grim but hopeful film that shows us the birth of a consciousness.
December 2, 2012
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.
½ October 23, 2014
A promise. What does that word mean to you? How far would you go to keep a promise you made to someone? Would you betray someone close to you to keep that promise? 'La Promesse' is a brilliant debut by the Belgian duo, Dardenne brothers, showing a 15-year old boy's brave efforts to keep his promise. The movie is about morality and responsibility. It's easy for one to blame their bad upbringing or company for their immoral ways, but it takes real courage and a good conscience to rise above those ways and become a better human being.

With hand-held cameras, simple narrative, inexperienced actors and no background score, Dardenne brothers' bold approach is quite refreshing and realistic; they place us right there, in suburban Belgium, where the story is unfolding. The story is stirring, and the acting is quite incredible, especially by Jeremie Renier; their eyes speak a lot.

I liked the way they handled superstitions and rituals related to it; it was darkly amusing.

The final scene is quite uplifting and heartbreaking. I loved the way they ended the movie; it keeps you pondering over a few things.
½ September 3, 2014
excellent, gritty ensemble piece on the subject of honour among thieves. great performances from all the leads
March 11, 2014
Sometimes you just bring out the best out of the very worst. It is a boy's story of coming of age from a situation which is totally bleak and devoid of humanity. He had one compulsion to keep the promise made to a fateless dying man. He had other motivation also to protect his father and his criminal activity. Being torn between the opposites he takes a course of activity which was really unexpected. There he grows into a man, a conscientious human being. The moral dilemma gives rise to sense of propriety. A gem comes out even from the curse of a depraved and betrayed childhood.
April 23, 2013
La Promesse is envolving as it is affecting, boasted by a terrific script by the Dardenne brothers and outstanding performances from its cast.
March 6, 2013
A simple film with philosophic ideas and of human relationship.Dardenne brothers' debut film has some interesting premises about father-son relationship, migration problems in Europe, interaction between people of different race and creeds and starts from there with the director's signature handheld cameraworks.
But the film arrived to some cliches at the middle when we would see the good-old black exploitation and hatred from whites,their unity only within their race in 20th century.From then the film suffered dragging a bit and near to the end, the boy's realization of his father's selfish cruelty and his confession to the struggling wife saves the film from being a outdated.
Though this one one also consists of some unsung relationship like other of their films. From that point of view,only the boy's morality is not justified to convince his character but his affection and coming of age characteristics are responsible largely on that matter.
February 5, 2013
Doesn't Belgium offer emergency medical service to the undocumented ? I mean even US will treat "illegals" in its emergency care, albeit at insane prices that are charged AFTERWARDS. But it would be a national disgrace for any developed country to deny emergency care for a baby because of lack of insurance/citizenship/residence !
½ February 3, 2013
La Promesse is a touching film about a boy learning to stand his ground and learning lessons in morality. The film has an almost documentary direct cinema style in which it is shot, not to be confused with Cinma vrit, the cast acts as though the camera man is a fly on the wall. The ending of the film truly begs the question of when does one decide when to stand up for yourself and make honest to ones word. A heart- wrenching, yet hopeful film for mankind as, if Igor can learn these lessons of a promise, maybe we can also.
½ January 14, 2013
Excellent Belgium film that tackles a universal sticky subject for any 1st World and 2nd World countries....illegal immigration. It takes a look at the moral quandry through the eyes of a young teenager who helps his father in the enterprise of bringing in and housing and getting illegals to work in the country. Police investigators are a problem, accidents are problems, and young sons who have a sense of responsibility for human decency along with a strong family bond along with a Dogme 95 like direction style (more along the lines of handheld camera action with extreme close-ups and a natural style of bringing you into the "action") equals an excellent film with an ending that doesn't quite sit well with this reviewer b/c it slightly stumps me. Maybe I got lost in the translation here, I have a feeling as to why it ends in the manner it does but it's still a bit of a headscratcher b/c nothing is said as the characters walk away from the screen saying nothing.
December 28, 2012
Perfect filmmaking. Great look, great story, great dialogue, great acting all around. I can't find a fault in this film.
½ January 6, 2012
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½ July 10, 2010
They'd go on to make better films, but La Promesse is still excellent.
½ March 8, 2010
There were parts that seemed to drag and that just plain frustrated me. A very solid film nonetheless and a very intriguing plot. I also wasn't in a super receptive mood when I watched this but it still was great filmwork. Enjoyed the whole "only music is diegetic" concept that the Coen brothers used in "No Country For Old Men".

Definitely loved it.
½ March 20, 2007
[font=Trebuchet MS]Full review to come.[/font]
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ November 3, 2005
[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]
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