Sunday, December 30

Eastern Promises DVD Review

Okay, here I go. David Cronenberg serves up a window to the Russian mob in London, with midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) leading us in. When a 14-year old girl dies from childbirth on her table, she involves herself with finding the baby's family. No name was left, only the girl's diary. Her father was Russian but she doesn't read it, she understands it well enough. She asks her stuffy uncle Stefan (Polish Jerry Skolimowski) to translate but he then refuses. So then she foes to restaurant owner Semyon (German Armin Mueller-Stahl), who seems nice. Stefan warns Anna about 'these people,' but it is too late when 'driver' Nickolai (American Viggo Mortensen) takes interest in her. He is super chummy with Semyon's shady son Kirill (French Vincent Cassel) who not doubt is involved in the mob. The story plays the 'more than it seems' game mixed in with 'I told you sos.' It isn't super predictable but the 'plot twists' don't the impact they should have. The atmosphere Cronenberg creates is enjoyable and entertaining, while the 'thrills' of a 'triller' fall flat.

The only squimish and thrilling part of the movie is the naked fight scene between Mortensen and two thugs. This is no doubt Mortensen's movie. He made the research, he sparks and shines everywhere. He steals every scene, and even if it was his and all eyes are focused on him. Watts plays her part as always, not anything new in this performance. Mueller-Stahl said he wanted to play something different than other mob bosses in cinema, even though he respected those like Marlon Brando. It is ahrd to snap out of what they established. He does try to make his own spin, but how much can you do with the now-old shtick of making a mob boss sympathetically and charismatic. The DVD has two short documentaries, no audio commentary and that's it. If you wanna see it, you won't be disappointed (especially Viggo nude). If you are not sure, it is worth a look but nothing to shout out loud for. And if you are violence fan, there is plenty. Although there is only about three deaths in movie, it is done memorably and artistically. The ending is pretty vague and feels it ends prematurely. Some things, I feel it should have been expanded more into. If you let us in, then why not show us everything?