Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris - a renowned American journalist based in Paris.
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The film tells the story of Michael (Oscar Isaac), a young Armenian who dreams of studying medicine. When he travels to Constantinople to study, he meets Armenian Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) and falls in love with her, although she dates the American photographer Chris (Christian Bale), sent to Turkey to record the first genocide of the 20th century when the Turks exterminated the Armenian minority. A love triangle settles amidst the horrors of war.
Angela Sarafyan (Maral) was born in Yerevan, Armenia. Despite appearing in almost 30 feature film roles to-date, this is her first in which she actually portrays an ethnic Armenian. See more »
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Our village sat high in the mountains of Southern Turkey. It was half Turk, half Armenian. I was the local apothecary. For 200 years the Boghosians made medicines using formulas handed down from our ancestors. All right. We treated everyone alike... Muslim and Christian, rich and poor. Every morning and night. I was proud of our craft. But making potions from herbs and minerals was not enough. My greatest desire was to study medicine at the imperial school in ...
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I think the film maker needed to ponder this question long and hard before taking his 100 million dollar budget and diving in.
I chose to watch this film partly because I am a history buff and partly due to the strong leading actors. But it was immediately apparent that this film vehicle is not at all worthy of their acting abilities. At times it was almost painful to see how difficult it was for them to inject any life or believability into their characters. And it is very hard to connect emotionally with characters who do not seem real.
Let's start with one of main characters - Ana. She is a French-educated Armenian governess for a prominent Armenian family in Constantinople. She is also having an affair with the American journalist. Now it is very doubtful that this affair was secret -- word got around fast in those days -- but how is it that her employer allows such a loose woman (this was 1914, after all) to educate his children AND even tells his nephew Mikhael that she would make a good match for him? Not believable. The other main characters could have been done well if they had been written well. But the film was so intent on giving us the details of the historical conflict between the Ottomans and the Armenians in their empire, that there really wasn't time to properly develop the characters. They were shallow at best and I just could not get to the point of catharsis. I usually cry in films depicting such tragic and moving events, but to my surprise, I did not shed a tear until the end when the narrator relates the wedding of Mikhael's niece and we read the words of William Saroyan.
So if the intent of the film was to tell us all of the events of the Ottoman-Armenian conflict, then give us a documentary please! I would actually be interested to learn about why the conflict started. Was there a Hitler lurking in Anatolia? Or was it a bit more complicated than that? Or, if the film maker really wants to have a love triangle (or quadrilateral since there were actually 4 lovers if you count Mikhael's wife) AND educate us at the same time, please try a mini series. Then there would be time for character development and the sweep of history.
The director of photography did not help this film either. Some of the outdoor scenes are shockingly bright and seemed very out-of-step with the subject matter. And the editing? I am no film-maker, but there seemed to be some very sloppy editing going on in the battle scenes especially. All in all I got the impression that this film was rushed into production. Why? I really would like to know.
It is truly a pity that trolls posted 1-star ratings in the thousands before the film was even in wide release. While the film is of poor quality, I do not think it deserves such a low rating. But the thousands of 10-star ratings? This film is so far from perfect that the high ratings seem like a mockery. What, have these people never seen a truly well-made film?
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