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La Promesse [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66: 1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]


The Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne achieved a cinematic coup with this cinéma vérité. La Promesse is a gritty film that exposes the dark underbelly of a marginal society without verneer.  This is an account of a crooked landlord Roger (Olivier Gourmet) and his son Igor (Jeremie Renier).  Roger rents slummy apartments to illegal immigrants and provides them with so-called “identification” papers. Igor develops a fascination with Assita (Assita Ouedraogo), an illegal resident whose husband works on the property. Life and death appear to be a fact of daily life not lost on young Igor, and when Assita’s husband dies in a construction accident, the father-son relationship takes a turn for the worse. The remainder of La Promesse deals with the aftermath of this event and documents a young man’s coming of age as he tries to reconcile his sense of right and wrong.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

In keeping with its dark subject matter, the film often goes grainy and a little blurry, giving the impression that this movie was shot on the fly with hand-held cameras, in a documentary you-are-there style. That notwithstanding, most of the print looks reasonably decent for its era.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]


We are offered only a French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remastered soundtrack.  Thank you, Criterion Collection, it is very good, and keeps us well involved in the proceedings.  There is a music track but it plays a proverbial second fiddle to the action.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The Criterion Collection gives us some very good extras:

  • A booklet with a critical essay on the film by critic Kent Jones
  • A conversation between critic Scott Foundas and filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
  • New interview with actors Jeremie Renier and Olivier Gourmet.
  • A revised English translation.
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

One tends to forget  the large shadow cast by Martin Scorsese over the film world that followed. The Dardenne brothers were obvious fans and took advantage of the Mean Streets approach that served Scorsese so well.  Just check out the Robert De Niro strut fashioned by Denier or the sudden fits and starts of the action. In nearly every scene there are reminiscences of the disadvantaged youth of the ‘90’s, irrespective of country of origin, captured by the very personal camera technique and the sparse dialogue. La Promesse was a highly decorated film after its release, and one can feel its impact nearly two decades later.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase La Promesse on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase La Promesse on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]


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