The Promise (2017) Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon

The Promise

2016 ‧ Drama film/History ‧ 2h 15m

Brilliant medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac) meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between Michael and Ana’s boyfriend (Christian Bale), an American photojournalist who’s dedicated to exposing the truth. As the Ottoman Empire crumbles into war-torn chaos, their conflicting passions must be deferred as they join forces to get themselves and their people to safety.

The bones of a truly great epic about finding hope in a seemingly hopeless scenario are certainly there, but The Promise frustrates because it stubbornly insists on trying to do much more than it reasonably should. The romantic love triangle between Mikael, Ana, and Chris never feels earned or even remotely tangible, especially as Bale’s Chris continues to prove himself as a heroic and honorable man, who only seems to get worked up about Ana and Mikael’s affair briefly during one chaotic scene near the middle of the film. For this reason alone, Bale is able to give the best performance out of the three leads, as he’s able to stay fairly clear of the cliched writing and moments that drag The Promise down.

What’s even worse is that when The Promise isn’t concerning itself with Ana and Mikael’s lackluster romance, it manages to capture moments of real tragedy, heroism, and human defiance. It’s in these moments, like when Chris and Mikael are forced to run through a dense forest in the hills of Turkey away from their violent Turkish pursuers, that George manages to most closely touch the same depth he captured in the flawed, but important Hotel Rwanda. That 2004 film from George, which told a similar story about genocide, never quite lost sight of the horrible atrocities being committed to its characters, even despite being messy in its own right.

That’s not to say that George goes light on scenes of murder and death in The Promise either, but rather that they never quite land with the same weight as they did in Hotel Rwanda. It’s clear that with the love story between Mikael and Ana he’s trying to bring a face to the millions of Armenians who lost their lives at the hands of the Turkish empire, but their romance merely distracts from the far more interesting and important events happening before and after their scenes together. It’s hard not to wonder if The Promise would have been more effective had Mikael, Chris, and Ana simply been friends forced to try and live through a terrible time together, rather than war-torn lovers.

The Promise hits its biggest stride near the middle of its runtime, as it follows Mikael through a difficult and stressful journey away from his internment camp back home to his village and family. Along the way, he tries to save a compartment full of Armenian prisoners while riding on the side of a speeding train, and happens upon a small Armenian family kind enough to lend him a donkey. That’s the kind of story that The Promise should have been more focused on telling, rather than a wartime love story that feels as unoriginal as it does lifeless.

Release date: 2016 (USA)
Director: Terry George
Budget: $90 million
Distributed by: Open Road Films
Producers: Eric Esrailian, Mike Medavoy, William Horberg, Ralph Winter, Denise O’Dell


Christian Bale
Oscar Isaac
Charlotte Le Bon
Angela Sarafyan
Shohreh Aghdashloo

The Promise, Reviews

2016 film

Critic reviews

Undeniably effective, in its own blunt way, this deserves credit for shining light on a crime that’s — unbelievably and controversially — still denied to this day. Full review

Andrew Lowry
Perhaps it’s unfair to saddle a film that clearly has high aspirations with even higher expectations, but this drama simply doesn’t live up to its, yes, promise. Full review

S. Jhoanna Robledo
Common Sense Media
The chief flaw of The Promise is that there isn’t a single development that you can’t see limping towards you from a great distance. Full review

David Edelstein
Terry George directs this romance, set amid the brutality of World War I.Full review

Jeannette Catsoulis
The NYTimes

The Promise (2017) – Rotten Tomatoes

Rating: 48% – ‎113 reviews
Film Ireland Magazine. The Promise tells its story well, and should be commended for doing so. April 28, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The Promise (2016 film) – Wikipedia

The Promise is a 2016 American historical drama film directed by Terry George and starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon and Christian Bale, set in the final …

The Promise (2016) – IMDb

Rating: 5.9/10 – ‎143,624 votesDrama · Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle ….. Those who provide a 1 star of 10 clearly are not actually rating the film, but providing political feedback. How many who have rated it as 1 in 10 have …

Historical drama: “The Promise”: an unflinching depiction of the …

The average blockbuster has to contend with budget fights and studio meddling; a film like “The Promise” is even trickier to bring to the screen.

After Armenian Genocide film ‘The Promise’ flops, what’s next for …

The Promise,” a love story set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, reportedly cost about $100 million to make. But it could …

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The Promise – Official Movie Site | Now Playing

Official movie website for THE PROMISE, starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale. Now Playing.

The Promise (2017) – Movie Tickets & Showtimes | Regal Cinemas

Synopsis. Empires fall, love survives. When Michael (Oscar Isaac), a brilliant medical student, meets Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), their shared …

The Promise (2017) (2017) | Fandango

The Promise (2017) movie info – movie times, trailers, reviews, tickets, actors and more on Fandango.

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