A slow-moving chamber piece centered on a worldly woman and a humble Albanian servant who keeps her under protective lockdown during WWI, “Solemn Promise” maintains its solemnity, to be sure. Made by vet helmer Srdjan Karanovic with Old World cinematic verities that make the project feel 30 years out of date, this drama about the durability of loyalties will play most effectively to tradition-minded auds unconcerned with filmmaking that feels stage-bound, pointing to fair Euro theatrical and tube sales.
Ordered to join Serb forces at the start of WWI, school headmaster Filip (Nebojsa Dugalic) has no choice but to leave his beloved Christian wife, Lea (lovely Iva Krajnc), in their village, where Azem (reliable vet Miki Manojlovic), an Albanian Muslim, will keep watch for her safety from neighbors hostile to her suspected Austrian roots. Bulk of the film stays within the confines of Lea’s small apartment or adjacent hallway, and inevitably traces the gradual friendship that grows between Lea and Azem. Pic belongs to Krajnc and Manojlovic, who give commanding yet subtle performances.