As I mentioned in a previous piece David Cronenberg is one of Canada’s premier directors and filmmakers. Cronenbergs work tends to gravitate towards the macabre but in the case of Eastern Promises, he directed an excellent UK based Russian mafia film. It sounds odd, but the movie is almost perfect as it’s absolutely dripping with suffocating atmosphere and malice.
The plot follows a midwife, played by Naomi Watts, who winds up delivering the baby of a drug-addicted 14 year old prostitute who dies during the childbirth. Anna soon learns that the teen was lured into the sex trade by the Russian mafia that’s established itself in London. The leader of these Russian Gangsters begins to threaten the baby’s life to keep Anna from telling the police about their sex trafficking. In Anna’s attempts to keep the baby safe she is pulled deeper and deeper into the underworld of the Russian mob. Harassment from the mob bosses son, and a cautious relationship with his strong arm hitman (played wonderfully by Viggo Mortensen) lead to increasingly worse events.
The movie is an absolute master-class in dread and tension. Cronenbergs direction is intensely blunt, never shying away from the brutal realities of the Russian mafia. The score is also excellent, mixing subtle orchestral flourishes alongside eerie pseudo-traditional Russian classical, that uses the violin to great effect. The acting all around is top notch, leading lady Naomi Watts and her co-star Mortensen, are both excellent. They provide two great contrasting performances that perfectly illuminate the different worlds they both come from.
Overall Eastern Promises is a fantastic film, one of 2007s very best. My only complaint would be that it can feel a touch overlong, but other than that, excellent. Have you seen it? Tweet us @evolution1079