Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Madison (Layla Kayleigh) has a dream of being a recording artist, Marcus (Wallace Demarria) has the dream of becoming a renowned canvas artist. Thus the groundwork is laid for director Earnest Harris’ first feature film ‘A Simple Promise’, a sweet and affecting little independent love story about dreams deferred that largely rises above its lower budget roots to deliver a very touching, if not somewhat overly verbose tale of remembering what’s important.

Mary (Ella Joyce) is a down home salt of the earth style woman who runs a cozy little family operated greasy spoon that employs our would be recording diva as well as her best friend Shawn (Aikisha Holly). Everyday at around the same time Marcus comes in the bistro and sits in Shawn’s booth ordering only toast, coffee and a water with lemon, and pretty much stays there like the whole day sketching various his drawings. Shawn, being one who seems to appreciate the finer things in life, has very little love for the starving artist since his daily fifty cent tips aren’t exactly fattening her bottom line. One fateful day Shawn passes Marcus and his water with lemon ordering self off on Madison, and a budding romance is born.

Pretty as she is, Madison does have some issues she is dealing with such as the strained relationship she has with her mother, and she also has a drunken and abusive ex-boyfriend in Chuck (Glenn Mac) who still has that lovin’ feeling and believes quite strongly that they should still be together. Unfortunately for Chuck, he let these emotions get the best of him one day at the diner in the presence of Marcus, and though Marcus might look a little on the soft side, he handled his business in putting Chuck down, further cementing a spot in Madison’s heart as this budding relationship begins to bloom.

Well these krazy kids were doing what they do and apparently weren’t taking proper precautions which leads to a family way situation. Krazy irresponsible kids. Madison is none to happy about this because raising babies and Diva perusing don’t go together all that well but Marcus guarantees her that everything will be all right as he does the proper thing by making Madison an honest woman and bringing their daughter Alexis into the world. The years pass, Alexis grows, as kids tend to do, and our young couple is still grinding away towards their goals, though they believe in their hearts that it’s simply of matter of when and not if, prompting the pair to make a promise to each other. As it turns out it was a matter of when and not if for both Marcus and Madison that puts this promise the test in the here and now, and especially in the years to come as our characters learn about perspective, real love, loss and sacrifice.

There a couple of things that work in the favor of ‘A Simple Promise’ with the first being that it is a film with a great heart and second being that it is a film with an equally important message. The execution of this message was suspect at times but the message was a positive one and overrode any issues I might have subsequently had with the film. The narrative that surrounds the film probably isn’t all that terribly original as we have seen similar stories in movies like ‘Mahagony’ and ‘Sparkle’ and I will admit I am dating myself by bringing up these ancient movies, but hell, we all should know by now that ‘success is nothing without someone you love to share it with’, right? This is the underlying theme of the film with actor Wallace Demarria giving a very sturdy and earnest performance as the loving husband and father who is willing to sacrifice everything for the love of his family, with sold supporting work turned in by Aikisha Holly and the always excellent Ella Joyce, as well as Selwyn Ward who was very good as Wallace’s friend Terrance. Layla Kayleigh, who is about as hot they come by the way, seemed to struggle a bit early on with some of her characters complex emotions, considering that her character had the greater emotional terrain to traverse of all the characters in the movie, but to the actresses benefit, her performance improved considerably as the film went on. Whether she got a firmer grip and a better understanding of character or not, I don’t know, but by the time the closing credits rolls the audience should feels some real emotion for the character of Madison.

Earnest Harris directs his film well but I did feel that it was a little too talky at points which affected the pacing of the movie and made it feel longer than it actually was. Some of the situations within narrative were a bit of stretch and forced you to swallow a couple of events that seemed highly unlikely. There were a couple technical glitches in the film that were distracting though overall the film did look and sound very professional. Another problem I had was with some of the language in the movie. Lord knows I have some nerve telling folks that they shouldn’t curse, but for a movie that had the look and feel of a spiritual family film, the filmmakers probably should have chosen to excise the profanity from this thing because it felt out of place, but then that’s just my opinion.

‘A Simple Promise’ as solidly produced, well directed, well acted independent feature that has good heart and an interesting, if somewhat derivative story to tell. Maybe a bit too melodramatic for my personal tastes, but still well worth checking out.

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