McCann At The Movies: Solid Yet Unspectacular Retelling Of Dark Time In History

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Our movie reviewer, John McCann, says The Promise is ultimately a missed opportunity…

With an all stellar cast including Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon and written and directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Terry George, all the ingredients were present for a modern day epic telling of the horrific events that revolved around the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the resulting genocide of 1.5 million Armenians.

Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon in The Promise.

Whilst Javier Aguirresarobe’s visually rich cinematography and Gabriel Yared’s evocative score lift the movie to added heights, this must undoubtedly go down as a missed opportunity to give a powerful tale the cinematic treatment it so richly deserves.

Continued below…

Playing at times like a Sunday Matinee movie (which isn’t altogether a bad thing), the film seems about 30 minutes too long as the intertwined love story at the centre of this tragic tale seems just that bit laboured and the movie suffers as a result.

This period piece does however, manage to highlight the horrific events that occurred between 1915 and 1917 and which may not be known by a lot of the movie going audience.

Scenes of brutality and heartbreak appear at every turn and at times this is not an easy watch, as the suffering and tragedy of the Armenian people unfolds before our eyes.

The cast also deliver admirable performances with what is at times rather weak material.

The film’s key problem appears to be that it can’t decide whether it is predominantly a tragic love story or an epic political drama and ends up being neither.

An undoubted missed opportunity, this may not be the worst film you will see this year, but considering its subject matter and players involved, it’s ultimately slightly disappointing and quite forgettable.


The Promise is currently playing in Tralee Omniplex. To read more of John McCann’s reviews, check out his blog here

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