Monday, January 21, 2008
Viggo Mortensen reunites with his History of Violence director David Cronenberg with Eastern Promises. Mortenson plays a man self described as merely the driver for some Russian mobsters in London. Of course, there is much more to the tale than that.
Naomi Watts plays a midwife that has a 14 yo Russian prostitute come in and die giving birth. She finds a diary that chronicles her tough life and the events that lead to her pregnancy. In the process of trying to get the diary translated and finding the child's family, Watts stumbles into a Russian mob run by Semyon(Armin Mueller-Staal). Mueller-Staal has got to be in the conversation for most overlooked actors ever.
Viggo works for Semyon's less than desirable son Kirill (Vincent Cassel). He has learned to have Kirill's back, but when a murder sets into motion a riff with a rival group - the shit starts hitting the fan.
Eastern Promises has a very basic storyline with strong actors throughout the roles. I, for one, always enjoy seeing Cassel living it up as the resident asshole of the picture as in The Brotherhood of the Wolf. Mortensen always gives a good turn, but I couldn't help but be reminded here of Robert DeNiro. Bobby usely tries the minimalistic route with much being conveyed with looks and well timed dialogue. It's as if Mortensen studied this aspect of DeNiro's craft and brought it all to the table here.
The storyline does have a couple of twists towards the end that don't feel forced. They seem like natural details that come to light only when necessary. By no means is this a perfect film. See the annoying narration from the prostitute while her diary is being read. They seriously could've gotten a better actor or method to express the words on paper to the audience. Despite the few problems I had with the storyline, Eastern Promises has a way of seducing you into watching it. Cronenberg does accomplish something very important: he leaves you wanting more.