Monday, June 2, 2014

Film Review: Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises (Review) 
United Kingdom/2007 
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Universal Studios) 
Netflix Streaming: No 
Amazon Prime: No 

" doesn't really hold anything back..."

When a 14-year-old girl dies during labor, midwife Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) delves into her diary to find her identity and a suitable relative to adopt the surviving child. However, the diary holds much darker secrets connecting with the Russian mafia... 

Eastern Promises is a dark, disturbing mafia film with strong themes, subtle commentary, and respectable authenticity. Beginning with a graphic murder, the film takes you on a simple yet complex trip through the Russian criminal underworld via Anna and her complicated relationship with the "driver", Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen). What I mean is: the plot is straight-forward and by-the-books, but the character is deep and complex. I usually don't mention it if this element is present, to avoid spoilers and keep the element of surprise, but I feel like I should: there is a twist in this film, and I think it's easy to see it coming from a mile away. Not only that, but I felt like it really wasn't necessary. But, then again, the character, Nikolai, works out either way. Regardless, the ending is great, it gives some hope yet has an ambiguous, open-ended vibe.  

Eastern Promises works very well as a gritty crime film. It has unexpectedly graphic violence, realistic sex, and honest mafia crime ceremonies and other workings; it doesn't really hold anything back, and delivers its realism with full force. There is also plenty of tension and suspense, and some action. It all comes down to the characters, though, and these characters are deep -- they are characters you can relate to and even empathize with. The story, as simple as it may seem, keeps you hooked from beginning to end with engaging storytelling and significant plot points at every corner. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of the twist, but it isn't significantly detrimental to the experience. 

Naomi Watts is great with a believable performance. Viggo Mortensen steals the show with a charismatic performance, a strong and complex performance. Vincent Cassel is a fantastic actor, and I'm happy to say he delivers great support in a, well, amazing supporting role. The music is subtle yet well-fitted and memorable, it really blends seamlessly with the film to create a very immersive experience. The film Is shot beautifully, despite the disturbing subject and consistent violence. Director David Cronenberg delivers a focused and complex film, and hooks the audience with a sublime style. 
Overall, Eastern Promises is a dark crime thriller, with a simple plot, but a complex cast of characters -- as fantastic as it is on the surface, Eastern Promises gets better as you dig deeper. It's a must-watch film for all film fans.  

Score: 9/10  
Parental Guide: Strong graphic violence and blood, sex and nudity, including full-frontal nudity.

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