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La Promesse (Criterion) (1996)

Cast: Assita Ouedraogo, Assita Ouedraogo, Rasmane Ouedraogo, more...
Director: Luc Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, more...
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Studio: Criterion Collection
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France, Coming of Age , Criterion Collection
Running Time: 93 min.
Languages: French, Italian
Subtitles: English, Italian
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A young man born into criminal circumstances is forced to deal with his conscience in this drama from Belgium. Roger (Olivier Gourmet) is a corrupt businessman who smuggles illegal aliens into Antwerp and protects them from the law in exchange for working with his construction company. However, Roger pays meager wages for back-breaking labor and charges aliens appallingly high rent for substandard housing. Roger has a 15-year-old son, Igor (Jeremie Renier), who has learned from his father to steal and twist the truth; Igor is loyal to Roger, despite his father's frequent violence against him. One day, Amidou (Rasmane Ouedraogo), one of the illegals working for Roger, falls from a construction site; as he is dying, Amidou begs Igor to watch over his wife Assita (Assita Ouedraogo) and their child. While Roger and his partners try to keep the death a secret to avoid police interference, Igor constructs an elaborate web of lies to ease the concerns of Assita, who does not know that her husband has passed. Before long, Igor's loyalties are torn between his concern for his father's safety and his guilty affection for Assita. La Promesse was voted the Best Foreign Language Film of 1997 by America's National Society of Film Critics. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

An Important Film by squad August 15, 2004 - 4:55 PM PDT
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I feel like a school teacher by saying that this is an important film, but that is the way I felt watching it. Why? Because the United States is also in the midst of the ability of people from all over the world to leave the problems of their home countries and seek a refuge of sorts in a new. It is just a reality of our times. Gritty and to the point the film chronicles the economics of illegal immigration from the viewpoint of a young teenager. It is definitely a coming of age film and as such I would want my children to see it when they are the same age as the boy in the film. The acting is all very good, as is the cinematography. The story also is very good, fast paced, interesting, and instructive. The ending, while abrupt, did point to a logical and probably just outcome, but I was a bit disappointed naturally wanting to see a happy ending somehow. But no, this is a movie about the world as it is, and that is why it felt important to me.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.03)
70 Votes
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A List of Good Movies
new french realistic cinema
some french language "realistic" movies that came out in late 90's early 00's

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