La Promesse ★★★★½

La Promesse is immediately my favorite Dardenne brothers’ film. It feels like an amalgamation of Rohmer’s textured moral explorations and Dogme 95, but is more matter-of-fact than Rohmer and less austere than Dogme 95. I think that’s precisely the Dardennes’ style though; their cinema plays out like poetic neorealism, holding two opposing aesthetics in gracious balance with each other. The film’s commentary on the mistreatment of refugees and undocumented immigrants through Igor’s perspective is disconcertingly prescient. Yet the directors and their cast never dip into preachy moralizing, acknowledging the danger of Assita’s situation with every shift of the plot.