Release Date: April 21, 2017
Directed by: Terry George
Written by: Terry George, Robin Swicord
Producers: Eric Esrailian, William Horberg, Mike Medavoy
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Marwan Kenzari, Angela Sarafyan
Studio: Open Road Films
Rated: PG-13 (for thematic material including war atrocities, violence and disturbing images, and for some sexuality)
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
A couple of days ago, a post came up in my Facebook feed from The Hollywood Reporter. The title of the article: "Hollywood Is Losing The Battle Against Online Trolls". But first, a bit of background: The Promise is a dramatic film starring Oscar Isaac as an incredibly brilliant medical student who finds himself engulfed within a love triangle that occurs during the Ottoman Empire's horrific Armenian Genocide, a story that has never truly been brought before a mass audience on the silver screen. Given that the subject matter could be considered risky, and the budget of the film amassed around $100 million, there was a lot at stake.
Now, back to that Hollywood Reporter article. That piece of news is significant because it used The Promise as one of the most prominent examples to solidify its case. The genocide-based drama premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September, to an audience of 900 people. Yet, before critics could even make their way out of their seats and into the blogosphere, tens of thousands of "down votes" and negative reviews appeared on the film's IMDB page. A massive number of people simply didn't like what the film was about, and a Reddit campaign began which pledged to take down the movie, months before it could even hit theaters, with an onslaught of negative reviews and comments.
With that being said, I saw the film just a couple of months ago, and I was captivated by the performances, the story, and the dedication to the preservation of historical accuracy. A number of critical reviews that I've read all seem to talk about how the "love triangle" aspect of the film between Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac), Ana Khesarian (Charlotte Le Bon), and photo-journalist Chris Meyers (Christian Bale) weighed the film down and distracted from the historical aspects of the movie. I highly disagree with this. I don't think that it weighed things down, but it guided the characters' motivations along, serving as more of a backdrop for the film's larger focus: the genocide of the Armenian race in 1915.
The film does not shy away from some of the more brutal depictions of what occurred during this period of time, including the depiction of labor camps that were created for the Armenians . Some of the more haunting moments feature Bale, in which he is seen documenting the aftermath of the executions with his camera, only to be chased down by those inflicting these acts upon the innocent. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching of these scenes presents itself in the form of Isaac's character discovering body upon body of the deceased while traversing the country to return to his village. It's a dark moment, showcasing Isaac's acting prowess and ability to deliver a hauntingly beautiful performance.
At its foundation, The Promise is not so much a love story about two people, but a love story about an entire race of people that have endured despite a harrowing atrocity that they encountered during a pivotal moment in world history. Ignore the so-called "online trolls" clogging up the online forums with their hatred and see this film. By seeing The Promise, you are shedding light on an important moment in history, and one that shouldn't be ignored.
The Promise opens in theaters this Friday, April 21st. To find show times and box office information for The Promise, visit www.fandango.com. You can also find out more information surrounding the film by visiting www.facebook.com/Thepromisethefilm and following their Twitter at @thepromisefilm.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.