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Christian Bale in 'The Promise'

'The Promise' puts a love triangle in the midst of one of the biggest genocides in recent history (TIFF Review)

burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief 'Hotel Rwanda' director Terry George sets the stage for an unusual love triangle during the horrible Armenian Genocide, which took place during World War I in Turkey, and is denied by their government to this day.

Oscar Isaac in 'The Promise'
Oscar Isaac in 'The Promise'

Michael, Ana and Christopher

Michael, played by Oscar Isaac, creates potions for the locals in his small Armenian village. But he wishes to study medicine in the big city Constantinople. To afford this expensive endeavor he promises himself to a young woman, which earns him 400 gold coins from her father. But when he gets to the city, you guessed it, he meets another woman, Ana.

Ana is an Armenian women from Paris, and Michael is immediately taken by her. But he also wants to keep his promise. Not to mention Ana's husband Christopher, an Associated Press journalist covering the war, played by Christian Bale.

Christian Bale in 'The Promise'
Christian Bale in 'The Promise'

The Genocide

The backdrop of this sometimes predictable love triangle is one of the world's biggest genocides in recent history. During World War I the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) targeted millions of Armenians simply to get rid of them, to exterminate the Armenian nation.

It's a horrible story that's still denied by the Turkish government. The IMDB rating for this film has been spammed down to a mere 4/10 at the time of writing. And even Obama hasn't been willing to call it a 'genocide' since he became President — afraid to hurt his relationship with the powerful nation.

The genocide was as bad as the one in World War II, with concentration camps, mass starvation, murder and rape. And it is recognized to be one of the first systemic, well organized genocides.

The subject of thousands of movies is not the Armenian Genocide though, but the one in World War II, whatever the reason may be. And this film, although it shines a light on the subject, is too light to carry the severity of the situation.

Sure, it's a tragic love story, and Isaac carries the film convincingly, getting the worst of all the characters. And Christian Bale has an important role as well, seeing his love slip away from him, while trying to report history. Even the overall tone of the film is well done. But although we're reminded this was a mass massacre, the film is too low key to show it.

On the other side the love story is woven in so well that it doesn't stand out either. What we end up with is an average love triangle set during one of the biggest moments in history, but without the depth to show it.

It's a noble effort to raise some awareness about this dark part of history. But it doesn't have enough meat on the bone to really make people think and reflect on the matter.

'The Promise' Trailer with Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale

'The Promise' premiered at #TIFF16 and doesn't have a release date yet.


Posted in The Promise,

burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief

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