An epic tale of love among wartime, I’m giving The Promise an A.
During the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise tells about an Armenian medical student, Mikael (played by Oscar Isaac) who falls in love with a tutor, Ana (played by Charlotte Le Bon), who is already with Chris (played by Christian Bale)--a NY Times journalist reporting on the atrocities in Turkey.
Mikael has always longed to be a doctor and agrees to an engagement in order to get the money to attend medical school. In Constantinople, he meets Ana and Chris and becomes fast friends, but when the danger to Armenians escalates, Ana and Mikael act on their desires only to be parted when Mikael is drafted by the Turkish army.
This sweeping tale shows the little known Armenian genocide by the Turkish people. Over 1.5 million people were killed during atrocity. I was a little surprised it wasn’t released closer to the Oscar voting because this movie has all the keys to an Oscar nominee, love, passion and war. The love story features prominently as both men love Ana but are forced to make tough choices in order to do what is morally right. The movie reminds me of Doctor Zhivago but with a desert not the snow.
Ana is a delight as she puts the children and others always before herself. Who else sings French children’s songs in a tent camp? Charlotte LeBon is amazing as this born nurturer. It’s hard not to like Chris in this movie. He’s set out to tell the world about the horrible things happening but the things he sees are eating him up inside. Taken to drinking, he isn’t the man he used to be. Christian Bale plays him with the ferociousness of Batman, but one who is unable to take on the whole Turkish army. Mikael is a man who makes a promise and goes through with it even when his heart isn’t in it. With some of the most heartbreaking scenes, Oscar displays stoicism in the face of his pain.
The Promise is a movie which will be talked about for years, partially because Turkey still refuses to recognize this part of their history and also because it took over fifty years to get this movie made. Afraid of threats and retribution, The Promise was filmed amid a publicity black-out and received an unprecedented slam of one star reviews prior to the movie’s release. At the very least, The Promise is a movie which will expand your knowledge of history.
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