Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dardenne Brothers: 'La Promesse' / 'The Promise' (1996)

In 1996, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne delivered La Promesse / The Promise. This film, set in their familiar, deflated industrial city of Seraing, Belgium -- smaller than Flint, Michigan, for comparison -- focuses on a father (Olivier Gourmet) and son (Jérémie Renier), their dodgy migrant worker housing-and-work schemes, and some of the international refugees situated among them. Specifically, though with minimalist style, we get to know more about how things are, and more about three people from Burkino Faso: Assita (Assita Ouedraogo), Amidou (Rasmane Ouedraogo) and their baby.  
In La Promesse, father Roger and son Igor have a fraught relationship that goes with the territory. Something's got to give . . .
Assita, Amidou (an unlucky gambler) and their small child.

In La Promesse as elsewhere, the Dardenne Brothers are masters at showing microcosms, situations teetering on the edge of disaster and coursing with moral quandaries. This is strong, laconic independent filmmaking. 

A similarly themed but more depressing film (set in Spain and starring Javier Bardem) is Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful (2010), which I also like.

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed).  


the walking man said...

Maybe Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne should come to Detroit and make a film. This place has become thoroughly depressing and is yet foundering on the shoals of class warfare and racism.

Charles Gramlich said...

I generally can't handle depresing films these days.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This sounds like quite a beautiful little film.