‘But the world was changing and so were we – some of us sooner than others.’
Promised, written and directed by Nick Conidi (co-directed with Tony Ferrieri), is a film which draws inspiration from Conidi’s parent’s lived reality, facing the outdated Italian tradition of arranged marriage, or combinare – meaning ‘to arrange’.
The film opens in 1953 when a baby Angela becomes ‘promised’ to close family friend’s son, Robert at a family celebration of her birth. Skimming forward a couple of decades, and in the midst of the 1970’s blue eye shadow, shag carpet and extravagantly large collars – we meet Angela again as a young woman, (Antoinette Iesu), she’s a university student, passionately head over heels for her boyfriend, who throws an undeniably obvious spanner in Robert and Angela’s fathers arrangements for their engagement. There is the vaguest sense of some underbelly, Godfather akin dealings in the tidying up of this loose end, but the film doesn’t revolve around this in the slightest – make no mistake, it’s a film about love and culture more than it is a family-run Italian mafia.
The film unravels the complexities that arise in the post-war world of immigrant Italian families, where tradition butts heads with the new generation’s faith in freedom and adapting to the new culture and times. It examines family duty, personal liberty and young love in an unabashed and earnest way as Angela navigates trying to escape her family’s expectations and her marriage.
The film is an endearing kind of rom-com that pays a truthful homage to the experience of culture and it’s evolution but falls short of being striking or particularly evocative. Some of the dialogue falls short, the script feels vaguely un-finished or in need of a few re-writes in sections where it leans on clichés and a somewhat predictable exchange of lines. Still, it is a heart warmer, the cast perform superbly and both directors still have much to be proud of in capturing the way a stubborn, nostalgic view of the world must sometimes adapt and how it may also be integrated into the modern.
Director: Nick Conidi, Tony Ferrieri (co-director), Nathan Primmer (co-director)
Cast: Tina Arena, Paul Mercurio, Antoniette Iesue, Daniel Berini
Writers: Nick Conidi