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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

watch it as you would your favorite painting

9/10
Author: trouverite from United States
8 September 2010

the best thing about promises written in water is how it reveals the narcissism, not in the director, but in consumers of cinema today. by presenting an impressionistic cycle of events that belie the richness of love beyond the walls of a cinema and providing the opportunity for an audience to re-experience them purely empathically--anyone with whom the events do not resonate is just expressing both an inability to empathize and the personal tragedy of never having accidentally loved in the absurd way that love should exist. everyone knows asking an audience to think about anything is hard. we now know that asking them to recognize their own vulnerability is even harder.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Completely original masterpiece by a great filmmaker

10/10
Author: josepedrocarlos from United States
7 October 2010

I attended the world premier of Promises Written in Water at the 67th Venice Film Festival. Vincent Gallo's third feature film may in fact be his best-directed film so far, which is saying a lot since he directed two of my all time favorites, Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny. Gallo's newest film Promises Written in Water is an extremely fanatical yet stripped down poetic masterpiece. Predictably the film has already been and will surely continue to be misunderstood for it is complete originality. Gallo's newest film is extremely radical and complex and its story is told in a subtle manor way outside of the convention of the mainstream. The films vocabulary is stunningly sophisticated and those who choose to describe the film in standard film review terms are insulting cinema and insulting themselves. Since Promises Written in Water does not follow a program which is comfortable for lazy mainstream writers, they must lash out against Gallo and they do so most often more personally than in regards to his work. Still Gallo continues to grown creatively and Promises Written in Water reveals the work of an very important high-level filmmaker at the top of his game. The film is simply beautiful. If your lens for watching films is stuck in past references or your expectations are standardized then I suggest you avoid this film. Personally I am grateful that a great filmmaker like Vincent Gallo can still exist in this world.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic!

10/10
Author: armadillo_smuggler from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
15 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I truly loved this film. It's a gorgeously shot, minimalist, sensitive and tender chamber-piece. Gallo is a master of improvisation and in total control of every gesture, expression and body movement. His female co- lead, Delfine Bafort, is a revelation. The DP, Masanobu Takayanagi, deserves a great deal of acknowledgement. Elsewhere, the film's judicious and meaningful use of silence is worth noting.

What I think will be referred to as "the Collette scene" (the film's first dialogue sequence) alone I would happily re-watch a dozen times over. Let's hope this film is around long enough for those of us who continue to recognize and appreciate those impossibly rare examples of pure cinema.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Powerful Meditation on Love and Loss

10/10
Author: ouroborosco from United States
15 September 2010

Vincent Gallo's Promises Written in Water defies both convention and categorization. From its beautiful black and white cinematography to its skeletal narrative structure, the film plays like a great novel where rather than spell out every single plot detail, the author (or in this case director) has instead chosen to give the reader (or the viewer) the joy of discovering key elements and using those elements to synthesize storyline on their own.

The film's sparse narrative tells the story of a dying girl and the unlikely man she asks to assist her during this time. It features two very strong acting performances from Vincent Gallo (who also wrote, directed, produced and edited the movie) and newcomer Delfine Bafort.

Watching this movie one can't help but reflect on the current state of experimental, independent, or whatever you name you choose to call non-mainstream filmmaking. You would not be alone if you come to the conclusion that the only filmmaker today who is willing to take the risks associated with living outside the mainstream film world is Vincent Gallo. He is also the only person who possesses the sensibility and the talent to consistently turn out films that resonate on multiple intellectual levels while maintaining a unique cinematic beauty.

Gallo has made another truly original film. And that is something one would be hard pressed to say about any other filmmaker working today.

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4 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Dear God it must be burned

1/10
Author: mattkindred900 from Canada
16 September 2010

Saw this film at TIFF the other night. I must admit I was a Vincent Gallo fan while growing up, having loved both the offbeat Buffalo 66' and The Brown Bunny but Promises Written in Water is an absolutely terrible film. Narcissistic in the worst way imaginable and grotesquely misogynistic throughout. As per usual, Gallo was not in attendance to promote his film, having instead opted to go back to New York or LA to avoid the cacophonous sounds of laughter at the puerile dialogue, terrible editing, awful photography and amateur acting. There is nothing remotely noteworthy about this film other than the running length which is a mere 75 minutes. Gallo is an original artist to be sure, but that doesn't mean what he makes is all that great. See it as a curiosity piece.

Better luck next time....

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