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La Promesse

Posted by martinteller on January 7, 2012

Completing my investigation of the work of the Dardennes.  This ranks among their best, which doesn’t really say much because most of their stuff is their “best” (with only Lorna’s Silence being a slightly subpar exception).  Igor and his father have a shady business going on housing illegal immigrants and putting them to work at construction.  When one of the workers falls off a scaffold and dies, Igor promises to look after his wife and infant son.  It is much like any other Dardennes film, using a realist style to explore ethical dilemmas, and in a way that slowly draws you into the drama, doling out information at a pace that never leaves you feeling either overwhelmed or lost.  The three central characters are all very well-performed, with a fine job by young Jérémie Renier in the central role.  Olivier Gourmet’s character is not as complex as his role in Le Fils (which would be my one complaint about the movie) but his intimidating presence looms large over Renier.  As the film approaches the end and the dread of Gourmet’s retribution increases, I noticed several extras in the periphery with a vague resemblance to the man, as if his doppelgangers were closing in on Igor.  Whether or not this was intentional, I don’t know, but if it is, it’s goddamn brilliant.  The ending scene avoids a tidy conclusion but leaves the viewer feeling satisfied that growth has occurred.  Rating: Great

IMDb
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