Directed by David Cronenberg (2007)
jusco’s Rating: ★★★★1/2
Eastern Promises is a solid, electrifying thriller from David Cronenberg, also known for his critically acclaimed A History of Violence. What he has brought to the table is an intense, gritty look into the inhumane nature of people, in this case, the Russian Mafia in London. Revolving around a midwife named Anna (Naomi Watts) who stumbles upon a dead teenage girl’s diary containing secrets potentially harmful to a Russian Mafia family, her interactions begin to involve the family’s driver, Nikolai (Viggo Mortenson), who is anxious to be accepted by his employers as a fellow member. An unusual relationship develops between the two, shaking both lives as they find themselves caught in a web of murder and deception.
There is not much action in this film. In fact, there are no guns. But, there are knives. And lots of tattoos. And an epic fight scene in a bathhouse that just blows your mind because it is so realistically frightening. At just 100 minutes, it is neither too short nor too long, it’s pacing well timed to slowly reveal atrocious secrets and stir up the anxiety and excitement in the audience. Howard Shore’s restrained score just adds to the mix, creating a heightened sense of tension. Though many might find David Cronenberg’s realistic portrayal of the Russian Mafia too grotesque to handle, those who are able to sit through it will find themselves in for a delightfully thrilling ride.
I forgot to mention: if you do not wish to see Viggo Mortenson’s genitals, do NOT watch this. They get more screen time than you might expect.