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La Vie Promise
La Vie Promise
Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Maud Forget, André Marcon, Fabienne Babe
Director: Olivier Dahan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2007     1hr 34min

Isabelle Huppert stars as Sylvia, a weary prostitute who suddenly makes contact with her estranged teenage daughter. Fleeing the French Mediterranean, they head north. Hounded by memory lapses and desperate not to see her ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Pascal Greggory, Maud Forget, André Marcon, Fabienne Babe
Director: Olivier Dahan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/20/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Okay Isabelle Huppert Road Movie/Maternal Melodrama
Kardius | USA | 03/23/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is not one of Isabelle Huppert's best movies but she's always interesting to watch and her great performance is the best thing about this movie and quite frankly the only thing that makes it watchable and worth recommending.

The film is essentially a road movie in which Sylvia, a prostitute, and Laurence, her estranged 14-year-old daughter, run away from Nice after the latter commits a crime to defend her mother. They head to find Sylvia's husband and son, which she abandoned three years before and erased from her memory. Along the way, they meet a friendly fugitive who helps them.

The cast is excellent and the scenery is pretty, though there's a heavy-handed use of flower symbolism and U.S. country songs. In short, I recommend it only for Isabelle Huppert's characteristically superb performance (thought be warned that, even though she's great, this is far from her best films)."
Isabelle Huppert: An Amazingly Fine Actress in a Glowing Rol
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"LA VIE PROMISE is one of those films that begs multiple viewings: the cinematography is truly an art form here, the story though incredibly well told (written by director/ co-author Olivier Dahan with Agnès Fustier-Dahan) requires integration of the viewer's thinking to capture the interstices of understated depth of the tale, an the acting of Isabelle Huppert is simply one of the finest moment on film. Rave review? Yes, and well deserved!

Sylvia (Huppert, who has never been more beautiful before the camera) is a prostitute with an edge in Nice: she accepts her profession but acts with the elements of a seasoned streetwalker, always fully in charge of any situation. She is a woman with a past. She was once married to Piotr (Andre Marcon) in northern France (Viale) but had a nervous breakdown eight years ago concurrent with the birth of her son, the apparent reason for her fleeing to Nice. Now her teenage epileptic daughter Laurence (Maud Forget) appears, having been scattered through foster homes because her mother doesn't want her around, and Sylvia once again throws her out. But Laurence is hiding in Sylvia's flat when her pimp visits demanding money, and Laurence kills him. The mother and daughter then flee Nice afraid of the murder consequences and travel toward northern France by walking hitchhiking, bus - any means possible to avoid the police. Sylvia has decided to search for her eight-year old son and for Piotr, hoping they may afford them protection. Along the way they meet Joshua (Pascal Greggory), an escaped convict who befriends them and encourages the growing bond between mother and daughter and eventually provides their arrival at their destination. The concluding moments of the story are the stuff of great drama and should not be revealed to the viewer.

Throughout the film the integration of art photography and music enhances the mood of the story: Bach, Mendelssohn, Debussy and mixed with contemporary American blues and the mixture deserves a CD release. But the overriding star of this entire production is the radiant Isabelle Huppert, one of our finest actresses of today, in a role that, though nearly impossible to make credible, in Huppert's hands becomes a woman whose damaged psyche becomes permanently imprinted on our memories. It is a tour de force of acting of the highest caliber. Highly Recommended to lovers of Art Films. Grady Harp, July 06
Huppert shines as down-and-out prostitute
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 03/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)


Isabelle Huppert gives a superb performance as a pill-popping prostitute in "La Vie Promise," a slice-of-life, hard luck tale set on the highways and byways of rural France. Huppert is Sylvia, a hooker in Nice with a fourteen year old daughter named Laurence, whose existence the jaded streetwalker would prefer not to acknowledge even though Sylvia does give her money on a regular basis. One night, however, Laurence forces herself into her mother's life by stabbing to death the pimp who is thrashing Sylvia to within an inch of her life for some money she owes him. The two women hop aboard a train in an effort to disappear into the countryside. One night, Laurence runs away after the two of them have an argument. Much of the film's time is devoted to the mother and daughter's search for one another, often missing each other by a mere fraction of a second. Joshua is a man whom Sylvia and Laurence meet separately on the road and who, in his strangely quiet way, becomes instrumental in reconciling - both physically and psychologically - the estranged pair.

"La Vie Promise" has a simplicity of style and a purity of vision that keep it from becoming just another tale of a down-and-out prostitute or a tired generation gap drama. Sylvia is a complex character, a hurt and lost soul trying to come to grips with the mistakes she's made and hoping to rectify at least some of those mistakes in this crucial moment of her life. Huppert does a beautiful job conveying both the emotional turmoil and the latent nobility hidden within the recesses of her wounded psyche. The screenplay doesn't try to psychoanalyze the character completely, but allows her to retain much of the mystery and ambiguity that makes her, finally, interesting to the audience. The film does less well with Laurence who really isn't allowed a whole lot of psychological development throughout the story. As a result, young Maud Forget isn't given much opportunity to display her depth and scope as an actress. Pascal Greggory's Joshua is also kept enigmatic, but in his case the ambiguity works well in the context of the story.

The film has been beautifully photographed, and Oliver Dahan's direction contains many lyrical touches that turn the film into a compelling mood piece, employing nature as a prime element in its artistry. But it is Huppert's rich and many-layered performance that brings the film to life."
The flow of the ghost river
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 12/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The story here is a little bit specious and even cloying at times. Isabelle Huppert plays Sylvia, a druggie prostitute who seems to care only about her booze and pills. She plies her trade on the streets of Nice. Her 14-year-old daughter, Laurence (Maud Forget) appears out of nowhere, having run away from her foster home. Sylvia tells her to get lost. She doesn't, and in the next scene, trying to protect her mother from a couple of pimps who are starting to beat her up for some money, the 14-year-old somehow stabs one of them. The other runs out the door. The stabbed man is dead, and mother and daughter are on the run as in a Hollywood on the lam movie.

I don't think I need to tell the reader that mom is going to find the love she really feels for her daughter in addition to finding her own heart, and so I won't, because it isn't that simple. The story though is rather ordinary and predictable and is told with a number of loose ends just left lying about, not the least of which is the dead man.

No matter however because:

(1) Isabelle Huppert is brilliant and very convincing as a low-class, trashy kind of person who lies almost habitually, even when she doesn't need to, a person lacking social skills or really any kind of skill. Her hair is too too blonde and she dresses like a tramp.

But it is amazing how comfortable Huppert looks in the role. Again I am very much impressed with her ability. I wonder if there is a more talented actress working anywhere in the world today. She is almost obsessive in the way she becomes the characters she plays. I've seen her in half a dozen films and in everyone she was a distinctly different person.

(2) The movie is beautifully shot with arresting scenes of earth and sky, unlike anything one usually sees in a domestic French movie.

(3) The music, some of it American country and western, some of it classical, was wonderfully chosen and coordinated with the story of the film in a way that enhances our appreciation. That is what is usually attempted of course. The idea being that music should help to trigger our response; but often the attempt is only halfhearted or too obviously directive. Here the music helps to bring the film to life.

(4) The story is uplifting and redemptive.

One more thing: the title in English, The Promise Life, is not a good translation of what is intended by the French, La Vie Promise. Better would be "The Promised Life," although that would be inaccurate. Also unsatisfactory would be "The Life of Promise." What I like is the title sometimes given to the film, "Ghost River." There is a beautiful line in the film that refers to "The flow of the ghost river" that I think somehow illustrates the life Sylvia has lead.

By all means see this beautiful if somewhat sentimental film for Isabelle Huppert, one of the great stars of the modern cinema."