“The Promise” is a gripping and dramatic film enhanced by powerful performances from the lead actors, particularly Oscar Isaac as Armenian Mikael Boghosian, Christian Bale as American journalist Chris Myers, and Charlotte Le Bon as Ana Khesarian, the woman both Mikael and Chris are in love with. Based on true events leading up to World War 1, the Armenians are persecuted by the Turks and the atrocities that occur are unthinkable. Mikael, betrothed to Maral (Angela Sarafyan), is given 400 gold coins by her father as a dowry. Mikael really doesn’t love her, but he wishes to use the money to become a doctor and travels to Constantinople to become a medical student. While there, he meets the Associated Press reporter Myers and his companion, Ana. Ana is a dance instructor, lively and lovely, and Mikael falls for her. But just as their relationship begins to grow, the Turks begin killing the Armenians, and Mikael has to return home.
Mikael’s mother insists he marry Maral, and he is promised the safety of a cabin hidden away, owned by Maral’s father. But no one can hide from the impending war, and soon the entire family is in jeopardy. No one is safe, including the women and children. Ultimately, Mikael sees Ana again, and the question is what will happen between them. The film features praying pastors and a faith message of trusting in God. It also features great heartache and death and the scourge and sorrows of war. Due to the sex and violence content, we are unable to award the movie our Dove Seal. The beautiful scenery and fantastic lighting of the cinematography is, at times, breathtaking. Passionate human beings are portrayed, many who risk and sacrifice their lives for others, and this is contrasted against the brutality of the cold-hearted, ruthless, murdering soldiers. In one scene two men are helping an injured Armenian man walk. He is shot and killed by a soldier who, in turn, tells the two men to “thank me” for easing their burden! This movie will definitely encourage the viewer to appreciate the freedoms that we possess, as opposed to the horrors of genocide. And it speaks of praying with hope. It is a film that will not soon be forgotten by the audience.