The Promise [2017] ★★★

 For the very first time, a big budget Hollywood production starring an all star cast tells a love story amidst the Armenian genocide. No wonder the Turks are angry. Screw them. “The Promise”, starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon, promises an emotional ride and delivers, as we follow the story of Michael Boghossian, an Armenian medical student who moves to Constantinople in 1914 and meets Ana, a dance instructor who just came back from Paris. Michael falls instantly for her, even though she’s involved with Chris (Bale), an American reporter based in Turkey. Meanwhile, thousands of Armenians are being evicted from their homes as the Ottoman empire plans to annihilate an entire population. Writer/director Terry George handles his material as a passion project, and the result is a film that casts a kind of spell. He’s also willing to take his time with his story but it never feels slow or dull. That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t trip on its own ambition at times. Still, I can safely say that “The Promise” transported me to another time and place and gave me a great deal of empathy for its leading characters and the Armenian people who were persecuted during the genocide. Terry George and his crew wanted to pay tribute to the 1.5 million men, women, and children who were viciously slaughtered by the Ottoman empire, and they’ve succeeded. For Armenians around the world, that’s a rare and extraordinary gift.

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