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Eastern Promises (2007)
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Review Date: February 01, 2008
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Steven Knight
Producers: Robert Lantos, Paul Webster
Actors:
Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai
Naomi Watts as Anna
Vincent Cassel as Kirill
Plot:
A nice nurse finds a Russian prostitute’s diary on her body after she dies delivering a baby, and decides to try and find someone in her family to take care of the kid. Unfortunately for her, it turns out that the people to whom she brings the diary, are the Russian mob, the same baddies who fucked the poor girl up in the first place. Needless to say, they are not happy about the existence of said diary and the game of cat and mouse, it begins. Oh, also…Viggo Mortensen acts and looks very cool in the movie! Enjoy.
Critique:
When David Cronenberg makes a movie, you can be sure of, at least, one thing: at some point in the proceedings, there will be a sequence that will make you want to toss your lunch and in this film, there are a couple of them, but one that the squeamish will surely want to stay away from in particular, is the scene that takes place in a bath-house – and NOT because star Viggo Mortensen’s junk is flying all over the screen (that would actually be a sub-reason to WATCH the scene, even if you are squeamish). The film works overall because the story isn’t packed with a million different subplots, it doesn’t outlast its stay and while the plotline is engaging and the locations, dialogue and accents all quite authentic, it was the actors who really brought this movie home for me, particularly the aforementioned Mortensen, who not only looks about as cool as any man can look in a film here, but also because he plays his character with an incredible mix of emotions, including forceful and scary, humorous and light, but also tender and understanding. The balance that Mortensen is able to high-wire here is impressive and certainly ranks among one of the best performances of his career. Mind you, Armin Mueller-Stahl is no slouch here either, playing a Russian godfather part as you would hope.

From the outside, the man can pass as anyone’s playful grandpa – and in a number of scenes, he plays just that – but on the inside, he is the king of pain, turning against anyone who he believes is in his way, including those who cannot even stand on their own two feet. Mueller-Stahl plays this guy perfectly, and the scenes between he and Mortensen crackle with intensity. Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel also play their characters very well, although theirs are a little more straight-forward than the former two. Another thing I really liked about this film was its pacing. From minute one, we get right into the proceedings, and Cronenberg doesn’t seem to waste a single scene to integrate us right into the London underground (the film only lasts a little over an hour and a half). As per my opening line, the film is also laced with a number of bloody sequences, gruesome murders, in particular, and even though I’ve seen many of these types of murders before (in movies, of course), Cronenberg still managed to make me twitch for each one. Disgusting stuff, dude. The film does end a little too “safely”, in my opinion, but you certainly won’t see me complaining too much about an ending that makes the audience feel good. All in all, if you’re a fan of crime flicks, Viggo Mortensen or director David Cronenberg, this movie is sure to give you what you want, and like I mentioned earlier, you even get a shot at Mortensen’s rocks, so how can you really go wrong, right? “I’m just the driver.” PS: I wanna see a sequel with Mortensen coming over to the States: WESTERN PROMISES.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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