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Solemn Promise

Will play most effectively to tradition-minded auds unconcerned with stage-bound filmmaking.

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 Made by vet helmer Srdjan Karanovic with Old World cinematic verities that make the project feel 30 years out of date, this drama about the durability of loyalties will play most effectively to tradition-minded auds unconcerned with filmmaking that feels stage-bound, pointing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.

Solemn Promise

Serbia-Slovenia-France-Hungary-Croatia

  • Production: A Film House Bas Celik presentation in co-production with Vertigo/ASAP Films/Tivoli/Arkadena. Produced by Jelena Mitrovic, Srdan Golubovic, Danijel Hocevar, Cedomir Kolar, Marc Bashet, Dragan Djurkovic, Denes Szekeres, Slobodan Trninic. Executive producer, Igor Kecman. Directed, written by Srdjan Karanovic.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Slobodan Trninic; editors, Branka Ceperac, Mateja Rackov; music, Zoran Simjanovic; production designer, Goran Joksimovic; costume designer, Sasa Kuljaca. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (Awards Buzz: Best Foreign-Language Film), Jan. 8, 2011. (Also in Moscow, Sofia film festivals.) Running time: 109 MIN.
  • With: With: Miki Manojlovic, Iva Krajnc, Radivoje Bukvic, Nebojsa Dugalic. (Serbo-Croatian, German dialogue)
  • Music By: