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Promise, A


Stars: Rebecca Hall, Richard Madden, Alan Rickman, Toby Murray, Shannon Tarbet, Maggie Steed

Director: Patrice Leconte

Sunday evening TV fodder and not particularly distinguished at that, this well-dressed repressed-passion piece is rather fusty, an enervating film that only occasionally holds our interest.

The story, based on Stefan Zweig's Journey into the Past, lays its cards on the table from the start. It's 1912 in Germany and working-class graduate Friedrich (Madden) is taken into the employ of a steelworks, soon making his mark with the boss, Kurt Hoffmeister (Rickman).

Roickman, easily the best thing in the film, quickly finds Friedrich a bigger office, looks to him for advice and eventually moves him into his home, where he is much taken with Hoffmeister's considerably younger wife Lotte (Hall). Mutual attraction is as instant as it remains unspoken, and Friedrich is soon volunteering to help the Hoffmeisters' young son, Otto (Murray), with his lessons, leaving his humble lodgings and his equally humble mistress (Tarbet, good) behind.

Things conspire to draw the putative lovers closer together until Friedrich is sent to Mexico to oversee a project he himself had initiated. Romance, however, despite lots of swelling violins in the background, remains low-key until the end, not helped by Madden, who lacks subtlety, and Hall who, sadly, just isn't very good. Though visually fragrant and elegant, her line delivery leaves something to be desired.

David Quinlan

France/Belgium 2014. UK Distributor: Altitude. Colour (unspecified).
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Jul 2014