A Promise

A Promise

Patrice Leconte (2013)

12A Certificate


Our Score
French director Patrice Leconte makes his English-language debut with this tepid adaptation of Stefan Zweig's posthumously published novella Journey into the Past. The action opens in Frankfurt in 1912, as steel tycoon Alan Rickman hires engineer Richard Madden and offers him lodging when he starts tutoring his son. However, Madden becomes besotted with the ailing magnate's young wife (Rebecca Hall), and the pair have to fight their feelings as the country drifts towards war. This scenario could have afforded Leconte ample opportunity to explore class, passion and the status of women in Wilhelmine Germany. But the lack of chemistry between Madden and Hall drains the film of energy and their unrequited longing is often unintentionally amusing. Rickman, as a man seeking to save his marriage by dispatching his rival to Mexico, fares better. But his co-stars completely miss the mood of the time, although Leconte and cinematographer Eduardo Serra hardly help with pallid lighting that makes the digital imagery seem as anachronistic as the performances.


A German university graduate becomes the private secretary of a steel magnate in 1912, and an unspoken love develops between him and his employer's younger wife. He is sent overseas on business, but pledges to return in two years - however, the outbreak of the First World War drives them further apart. Romantic period drama based on Stefan Zweig's novel Journey Into the Past, with Rebecca Hall, Richard Madden and Alan Rickman.

Cast & Crew

Lotte Hoffmeister Rebecca Hall
Friedrich Zeitz Richard Madden
Karl Hoffmeister Alan Rickman
Otto Hoffmeister Toby Murray
Frau Hermann Maggie Steed
Anna Shannon Tarbet
Hans, the butler Jean-Louis Sbille
Director Patrice Leconte
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Altitude Film DistributionGuidance: Sex scenes.Released on: 1 Aug 2014