A Promise Review

Just ahead of its world premiere at Venice, Patrice Leconte’s ambitious English-language debut, “A Promise,” has already drawn a flurry of buyers.

Paris-based outfit Wild Bunch, which reps the Rebecca Hall starrer in international markets, has closed more than 20 territories with distributors, notably Mars Distribution (France), Japan (Comstock), Australia and N.Z. (Vendetta), Officine Ubu (Italy), Lusomundo (Portugal) and Frenetic (Switzerland).

The pic was co-written by Leconte and Jerome Tonnerre (“Renoir”), adapted from Stefan Zweig’s novella “Journey Into the Past.”

Set in Germany just before WWI, “A Promise” toplines Hall as the wife an older, wealthy man (Alan Rickman) who falls hopelessly in love with a young and ambitious engineer from a modest background (Richard Madden), who is Rickman’s personal secretary. The pair engage in passionate liaison and when war breaks out, they promise to go on loving each other.

Leconte described the film as “an intimate, troubling and compelling love story that delves into the lasting power of passion” and questions whether it “can defy time, distance, betrayal and war,” when unveiled the project to Variety in June 2012.

Although “A Promise” is Leconte’s first English-language film, the French helmer has been making movies for four decades, earning critical acclaim in France and abroad. A festival favoriet, his works include award-winning, commercially successful films such as Bafta-winning “Ridicule,” which also competed at Cannes, and Bafta-nommed “The Hairdresser’s Husband.”

Marc Missonnier et Olivier Delbosc produced via their Paris-based banner Fidelite Films (“Little Nicholas”).

Lead by Carole Baraton, Wild Bunch’s international sales team is shopping “A Promise” at Venice and will then present its North American premiere at Toronto.

“A Promise” screens out of competition Wednesday and Thursday.

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