The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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‘Eastern Promises’ promises to be an action-packed thriller

For people craving a good crime and mystery movie “Eastern Promises” is a great choice. Directed by David Cronenberg, the film takes place in modern day London, and focuses on a newborn baby left orphaned by her 14-year-old Russian prostitute mother. Naomi Watts plays Anna, a well-wishing midwife who is trying to track down the baby’s family through a diary she found in the deceased mother’s purse.

What Anna doesn’t realize is that the diary, which is written in Russian, contains information and secrets about the young mother’s forced involvement with a violent Russian gang, the Vory V. Zakone.

Anna tracks down family ties through a personal driver, Nikolai, played by Viggo Mortensen. The more she interacts with Nikolai, Anna begins to realize that there is a wealth of deadly secrets within the girl’s diary – and more lives are at risk.

The character of Nikolai is exaggerated in contrast to the rough and abrasive Kirill, played by Vincent Cassel. Kirill aggressively enforces his family’s virtues and criminal brotherhood and eventually begins to entrust Nikolai with a fair share of gory activities, such as the disposal of the family’s victims.

Cronenberg has masterfully created a gripping suspense film; the type that keeps you perched on the edge of your seat throughout the duration of the movie. The scenery and dark mood keeps the film brimming with anticipation and fear and the main characters are quite adept at creating tension within their on-screen relationships.

Watts shines as an innocent midwife, and her pretty visage doesn’t detract from the raw perseverance she puts forth by playing a character whose good-samaritan intent stretches well beyond the screen. The only problem that emerges from Anna is the way the character has been written as being somewhat na’ve.

Though her character courageously chooses to thrust herself into the heart of a deeply dangerous culture, there’s a prodding sense of something flimsy and gullible.

There is nothing flimsy about Mortensen’s character – a brooding, intense driver with several secrets of his own. Nikolai finds himself split between two desires; acceptance from Kirill’s tight knit criminal family and Anna’s well-wishing intent to track down the orphaned baby’s lineage. His loyalties are divided as Kirill and the Vory V Zakone family pull him in closer with their affairs, and he finds himself painfully attracted to the stubborn but beautiful British midwife.

Nikolai has an intimidating sex appeal and he particularly makes the movie by being the key force in an incredible fight scene. To explain the pretense of the fight would involve too many spoiler details, but, in a nutshell Nikolai fights off two rival gang members in the nude and the sheer realism of the scene is astounding.

This movie is not light on difficult themes like prostitution, murder, deception and drug use, but it effectively finds ways to communicate the character’s internal struggles through all the gore. People with weak stomachs might not enjoy this film, as within the first ten minutes of the movie, the camera pans in close to the amputated stubs of a corpse’s frozen fingers.

There are also several difficult scenes surrounding under aged prostitution and rape, but despite their painful implications, they are filmed in a way that is not graphically unnecessary.

The movie speeds along at an hour and 40 minutes. The plot is complicated, but the film does not drag on due to its straightforward dialogue and well-organized timing.

The plot takes a well-planned twist near its conclusion, and though some people might see it coming, others will be surprised at the nicely revealed ending. “Eastern Promises” is rife with small details, so if you somehow find your attention wandering, focus! The film’s twist depends on your comprehension, so people fidgeting with their cell phones or gorging on popcorn might miss some essential points.

“Eastern Promises” presents a finely crafted script and an alluring story. It’s an intriguing look at a culture so unlike the majority, and the focused work of complex characters helps to deliver a rich and satisfying film.

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