Saturday, December 15, 2007

Eastern Promises Review

Eastern Promises

Year: 2007
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Naomi Watts, Jerzy Skolimowski
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA: Rated R

As my first movie review for this blog, its going to be Eastern Promises. This is Director David Cronenberg's follow up to "A History of Violence." I didn't get the chance to see A History of Violence or any other Cronenberg film except his 1986 film, "The Fly" which I thought was an entertainingly good film.

This time around, Cronenberg brings us into the world of the Russian crime organizations in London. We are taken there by Anna (Naomi Watts) a sweet girl, as she looks for relatives of a 14 year old girl who dies in childbirth under her care. The girl leaves a diary written in Russian which leads Anna into trying to translate just whats in the diary. Through Anna, we meet the major players in that Russian underground: a calm restaurant owner and crime boss, Semyon (Armin Mueller Stahl), his disturbed son (Vincent Cassel) and their strange, but secretive driver Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen). With this story as background, the movie proceeds to dive right into the action of this well written script where these characters live their everyday lives.

The acting is very top notch. Armin Mueller Stahl was once nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "Shine", but I haven't really seen him in a film before. This is a showcase role for him and in my opinion, enough to get him another nomination at least. Vincent Cassel does his thing too adding this film with his other powerful films such as the 1998 Elizabeth and the 2002 Irréversible. Naomi Watts downplays her great role and lets the actors outshine her, yet she is wonderfully effective in her own way. But the star of the film is really Viggo Mortensen. He is really convincing as the strange and confident driver who climbs up the ranks in the Russian mafia. He was as effective in all of his scenes including a rough, but bloody bathhouse scene near the end where he is completely nude, which to my surprise didn't distract me one bit. He is also very genuine in his scenes with Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel. As if he knows when he senses trouble, but can also show sincerity and concern.

The film's blue overcast atmosphere blends in amazingly well. The buildings and cars look wonderful in scenes where they appear. The timing and location keeps the films gritty, but stylized look.

This film is not going to be easy to watch. The blood and violence is very high which is surprising since the trailer for it, obviously didn't show enough. But being a very interesting trip down the Russian underground and the high quality acting makes this a great film. My only complaint about the film would be its ending. I mean by all means, it isn't a bad one, but its certainly short. This film could have easily gone on for 20 more minutes to say the least. I mean the 1hr 40 minutes of this film just isn't enough, it could have finished off real nicely if given the extra time.

Rating: 7.8 / 10

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