The edges of Hard Promises have all the elements of a great movie……..action, heroes, villains, love, sex, heartbreak…… it’s all there. At the beating heart of Hard Promises is a deeper story. It’s about redemption. Hollywood doesn’t make a lot of movies about redemption anymore. The Verdict, American Gangster, The Shawshank Redemption and The Bucket List certainly come to mind. The story of a “bad” person finding the way to good deeds is at the top of our concepts of inspiration. But it’s not often the top of the pops in Hollywood.
The reason can be reflected in society, as so many Hollywood trends are. Get outside of the world of sports and it’s hard to find a good redemption story anymore. Tiger Woods is on his way to redemption. LeBron James achieved it. Even Mike Tyson is moving that way. A quick flick of the headlines turns up stories of society and the individuals who are selected or elected to lead it spiraling into darkness. Even a 60s liberal and idealist such as Kurt Andersen wrote in The New York Times on July 4, “what has happened politically, economically, culturally and socially since the sea change of the late ’60s isn’t contradictory or incongruous. It’s all of a piece. For hippies and bohemians as for businesspeople and investors, extreme individualism has been triumphant. Selfishness won.”
Allan Haber’s story is a great argument against that viewpoint. Haber would call “bullshit” on Andersen. His story shows that the judicial system from the street cop to the parole board can be corrupt and indecent. It also shows that it can be transcended. His story shows that individualism need not be selfish. It can be a gift to society. Capitalism is greed; it’s also reality. In the embrace of this duality, Hard Promises becomes a special film.