Co-written and directed by an Academy Award winner, starring an exciting and talented cast, and focusing on an important and controversial historical tragedy, The Promise should, by most measures, already be the clear frontrunner for next year’s Best Picture Oscar. Unfortunately, it’s got one thing going against it: it’s apparently not very good.
Set in the final day of the Ottoman Empire, the melodrama stars Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale as, respectively, an Armenian medical student and an American photojournalist competing for the affections of a woman (Charlotte Le Bon). In the background of this love triangle, the Armenian Genocide is beginning—or, depending on who you talk to, never beginning or even happening at all. Hotel Rwanda‘s Terry George—who, perhaps tellingly, last made the little-seen Brendan Fraser action-comedy Whole Lotta Sole—directed from a script he co-wrote with Benjamin Button Oscar nominee Robin Swicord. Again, you’d swear this thing was the film for Moonlight 2 to beat at the next Academy Awards. We’ll see if it somehow still is when it hits theaters April 21.