A Film That Is Also a Handshake: The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers
- La Promesse
- The Promise
- Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
- 94 BluRay
- September 8, 2020 6:15
- September 10, 2020 8:30
- September 13, 2020 8:30
“A moral drama of lacerating impact and overwhelming passion … A small masterpiece.”Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, “Europe’s quiet soldiers of urgent, humane cinema” (Dave Calhoun, Time Out), came to worldwide attention with their breakthrough third feature. A raw, realist drama set in the brothers’ industrial hometown of Seraing, La Promesse charts the moral awakening of 15-year-old Igor (future Dardenne fixture Jérémie Renier), whose father (Olivier Gourmet, also a staple) runs a dirty business exploiting illegal immigrants for cheap labour. When an African worker is fatally injured in a construction site accident, Igor makes the dying man a promise that sets the father and son on a collision course. The mission-statement film, an artistic coup de maître for the Belgian brothers, bears all the hallmarks of the Dardennes’ reborn cinema: handheld camerawork informed by boots-on-the-ground documentary, naturalistic performances, and a palpable sense of ethical purpose and real-world relevance.
“Moving and utterly absorbing.”Richard Brody, The New Yorker
La Promesse screens from Criterion’s 2012 Blu-ray edition, featuring a directors-approved high-definition transfer of the film.