Australia is a very multicultural country; we all come from wildly different backgrounds and all have extremely different upbringings. However our films rarely reflect this - there are exceptions, of course, such as ‘Top End Wedding’, ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ and even ‘Strictly Ballroom’, but more often than not our films take place in the outback. ‘Promised’ takes us back to the 70s for a glimpse of what it was like to be Italian.
In 1953 Sal (Paul Mercurio, ‘Strictly Ballroom’) and Joe (Mirko Grillini, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’) arrange for their children to be married. Now 21 years later, Angela (Antoniette Iesue, ‘Harmony’) and Robert (Daniel Berini, Funny or Die's 'Elling & Izzy') are old enough to get married, but the 1970s arranged weddings aren’t the norm anymore... and Angela has a secret boyfriend. Her mother Rosalba (Tina Arena) is also against it, she herself having gone against her parents’ wishes when she married Sal, but he doesn’t want to ruin the bond between the two families.
The first twenty minutes or so are really sweet and enjoyable. The film is set in the same time period as when my family came to Australia from Italy, so it was nice to see that generation depicted and allowed me to reminisce about stories I’ve heard from family members. A lot of the houses have furniture that feels lifted from many Italian households, so it gave me a sense of nostalgia towards my grandparents' house. But after that all wears off, the rest of the movie is a little average. It plays out pretty much how you would expect, without any real twist or turns. Aesthetically, you often forget the film is set in the 70s and it feels wasted being set in this time period for the most part.
You often forget the film is set in the 70s and it feels wasted being set in this time period for the most part.
‘Promised’ hopes to be a standout in the Australian film landscape, but just falls flat. For older viewers, it might hold more resonance, but personally, after my own personal nostalgia wore off, I was left with a mediocre film. The acting is fine and the story is somewhat interesting, but the filmmakers just don't quite pull it off.