A Promise (La Promesse) (★ Empire Review)

APromiseSquareGermany, 1912. An ailing industrialist (Alan Rickman) hires a young man (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden) to help run his business, only to find the boy falling for his wife (Rebecca Hall).

Anyone introduced to Stefan Zweig by Wes Anderson’s patronage (The Grand Budapest Hotel was inspired by the Austrian author’s stories) – and, come to think of it, anyone who likes good films – would do well to steer clear of this torpid, turgid adaptation of his novella “Journey into the Past”. It’s a rare but calamitous misstep from Patrice Leconte; clearly, he was going for the kind of subtle yet stifling undercurrent of sexual tension found in Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, but Hall and Madden have all the sexual chemistry of a table and chair, and even the normally reliable Rickman cannot lift this above the level of an ITV Catherine Cookson adaptation.

Set in Germany, directed by a Frenchman and acted – terribly – by English people, it’s the worst kind of Euro-pudding. On this evidence, UKIP may have a point. ★


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