Monday, May 12, 2008
Matt Komar's review of Eastern Promises (on DVD)
Eastern Promises **1/2
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by Steven Knight
Starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts
David Cronenberg - Great Director. He has managed to start out in cheap horror movies to become one of the finest directors out there. He is also known for his violent imagery. So when one thinks of Cronenberg and a movie about the Russian Mob, one thinks "bloodbath". Well, not really that much of a bloodbath, but that doesn't matter. The film, which is neither bad or good, could have been a crime drama classic. We've seen Italian, Irish and even French mob classics, but never a classic on the Russian mob, yet it has rose meteorically since the fall of Communism. Cronenberg could have easily make this a crime classic, with his reputation and all, but with that, and the script by Steven Knight, it has failed to do that, instead going for a character study. Anna (Naomi Watts) is a midwife who delivers the baby of a young Russian immigrant, who leaves only a diary in the world. She unsuspectingly falls into the world of the Russian mob, despite her uncle's warning. During the events, she come into contact with Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), a driver, or so we are led to believe. That as far as I'll go with plot. There's nothing much though, despite a twist and a really awesome fight scene between a naked Nikolai and two goons. With it's slow pace and not so monumental plot, Promises should of, would of and could of pack a punch. Despite an enigmatic performance from Viggo Mortensen, and a rather interesting ending, the film fails to captivate the viewer and such. There are problems with film because of it's genre. It's a crime drama first and foremost. And it involves family. Oh, what film does that remind me of? What would of worked without changing the formula was go for a Le Samourai type approach. They already have a mysterious leading man, and has some noir elements (the unsuspecting person falls into the crime world), and that would of made for a much interesting and cool film. But it goes for the drama approach, failing to remember that it's a crime drama. Mr. Cronenberg, you had a missed opportunity.