Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Movie Review: Eastern Promises

David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises is another crime drama like A History of Violence that combines ordinary people and vicious criminals. Naomi Watts plays Anna, a mid-wife trying to find family of a baby girl who's 14 year old mother died. Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Semyon the head of a Russian crime family in London. Vincent Cassel is Kirill his only somewhat competent son and Viggo Mortensen is Nikolai, Kirill's driver and foot soldier.

The story unfolds nicely and I won't give anything away. I think the plot works and holds up but the acting in this film is what's really special. Every character is well realized with a lot of nuance that's often added by just one line in the script and a huge amount expressed on faces. Normally I find such things excuses for long slow scenes that add far less than what an actual conversation could express but that wasn't the case here at all.

Oh and did I mention a fight scene that better than anything in any of the Bourne films? Really good stuff with a remarkably vulnerable hero. It is Cronenberg, so he passes up every opportunity to cut away from a scene a moment early to spare the audience something particularly gruesome, violent or disturbing. While such things don't normally bother me, I was wincing at some scenes in the beginning of this film, but not at some later things. I'm not sure what that means.

This is definitely one of the best films I've seen this year. Every aspect is skillfully constructed and contributes to a tight story. Eastern Promises is not as ambitious or epic as Goodfellas, but that's the film I want to compare this with. It's certainly far better than The Departed.



Roman said...

Seems like yet another Holywood movie about Russians played by non-Russians (maybe, some stupid side character to add a flavor). Despite your good review, I am so sick of those (movies)... have not seen one that did not look retarded to me... that I will pass on this one.

Howard said...

Well it's a British production company and a Canadian director, not quite Hollywood. True that Mortensen and Cassel aren't Russian but Mueller-Stahl is at least Prussian. I can't attest to the quality of the accents and I can understand how bad ones could be very distracting, but I don't think actors necessarily need to be the ethnicity of their role.

Roman said...

Well... when it comes to Russian mobsters... I can only trust a Russian :)

Roman said...

Oh...and Prussian is so != Russian :)