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La Promesse

A Feature film by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Release in France : 16/10/1996

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Production and distribution (4)

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Igor, is fifteen. He's an apprentice mechanic, a karting fan and above all his father Roger's son, involved, with him, in an illegal immigration racket. Igor takes to his father's scams with natural verve and innocence, not asking too many questions. Yet, one day because of a promise made Igor is forced to choose. Can he come clean without betraying his father?


Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne may be compared to the Coen brothers (“Miller's Crossing”, “Barton Fink”, etc...) insofar as they work in total symbiosis. Yet as "engaged" film-makers, these young cineastes are more in the vein of Ken Loach than Mathieu Kassovitz. "Hate" opened up a whole new genre in French cinema. The less didactic "La Promesse", however, is much more credible. Like Loach, the Dardenne brothers don't judge, they simply present a slice of life. The torment of this microcosm on the fringes of society - the theme is that of a young delinquent (Igor) who has to choose between his "bastard" of a father (remarkably played by Olivier Gourmet) who killed a black, and his conscience - never tends towards either excessive anger or sentimentality. The young Jérémie Renier and Assista Ouédraogo give extraordinary performances, which, given their relative inexperience, is no doubt thanks to the Dardenne brothers who with this film have become "majors" of Francophone cinema.

Edward Behr, journalist and writer

Full credits (8)

Screenwriters :

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Press Attaché (film) :

Marie-Christine Damiens

Production Designer :

Igor Gabriel

Costume designer :

Monic Parelle

Sound Recordist :

Jean-Pierre Duret

Editor :

Marie-Hélène Dozo

Music Composers :

Jean-Marie Billy, Denis M'Punga

Still Photographer :

Christine Plenus

Technical details

Feature film

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Coproducer countries :

Belgium, Luxembourg, Tunisia, France

Original French-language productions :


Nationality :

Minority French (Belgium, Luxembourg, Tunisia, France)

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French release :


Runtime :

1 h 30 min

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Audio format :

Dolby A