Eastern Promises (18)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Oct 9 2007

Just as the shivering ghost of Coppola’s ‘Godfather’ hovers over the gruesome opening barbershop murder in Cronenberg’s impressive, if flawed, London-set mafia thriller, so can you can detect the influence of Paul Schrader in the samurai-ethics of its novitiate hero, Nikolai (an outstanding Viggo Mortensen), a lowly chauffeur with useful taxidermy skills, whose formidable forbearance, shaded tact and steely-strength mark him out as a man of yet-unfulfilled ambitions. Good influences on a great director, undoubtedly; but as Cronenberg’s thoughtful, atmospheric, meticulously-directed and slyly analytical film progresses – and as Nik becomes torn between his feelings for feisty midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) and duty to deceptively-bonhomous boss Semyon (Armin Muller-Stahl) whom she enlists to translate the diary of a dead Russian prostitute – it’s magpie intelligence make your body ache for shots of pure Cronenberg.

When they come – and they do, not least in the sordid symphony of slips, steel, blood and bare-flesh Cronenberg choreographs as the now-promoted ‘vory’ does gut-wrenchingly realistic battle with Chechen rivals on the wet tiles of Finsbury baths – it’s a pleasurable shock. It’s fascinating to watch Cronenberg apply his uniquely transgressive, dualist gaze to the Thameside alleys, velveteen private clubs and the psychological battles and shady internecine struggles of old and new Londoners. But his is a morally-complex vision seemingly at odds with that of the script provided by Steve ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ Knight, whose penchant for mechanistic and self-cancelling moral correspondences and ambiguities provides a birth for every death, for every racial, social or moral presumption, a clever qualification, reversal or inversion. The marriage of the two minds – the one fissive, the other more domesticated and pc – has produced a slightly hesitant, slightly undercharacterised and gently compromising, hybrid: an oddly diplomatic, if often brutal, dip into the hellish demi-mondes lurking behind bouncer-guarded London doorways, which while lacking either the immersive compulsion of his first ‘London’ film ‘Spider’ or the clarity and graphic power of his similarly-themed ‘A History of Violence’, offers something quite new and intriguing from Cronenberg, an ironic but undeniably romantic comment on the uncertain return on moral capital, an achievement that would have been inconceivable without Mortensen’s extraordinary central performance.

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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Oct 26, 2007

Duration:

100 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Sinéad Cusack, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel

Editor:

Ronald Sanders

Director:

David Cronenberg

Cinematography:

Peter Suschitzky

Production Designer:

Carol Spier

Screenwriter:

Steven Knight

Music:

Howard Shore

Art Director:

Rebecca Holmes

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|27
1 person listening
E A Dobson

CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILER: I agree with the TO review in that it would be inconceivable without Mortensen`s extraordinary central performance.Watts and Mueller-stahl are good but Cassel,whom i sometimes like,is poor,i hadn`t the slightest belief in the softening of his character in the films ending(what was Cronenberg thinking!).Overall watchable but not much here without Mortensen(a 5 star performance in a 2&1/2 star film).I much prefered Cronenberg`s Spider(my favourite of his films i`ve seen) and A History of Violence,as long as you bear in mind it`s based on a graphic novel & not to be taken entirely seriously.

benjamin ross

something lacking here, in retrospect. still, bloody good viewing and vigo mortennsen is absolutely amazing. not yer best cronenberg but u shud still watch this one

Steve Foster

For all its flaws I enjoyed this film. Yes the characters are one dimensional and it 's trying to be too Godfatherish but the juxtaposition of the ordinary family with the gangsters is well done. Particularly liked the locations

Todd

An absolutely beautiful film even though the violence was harsh at moments it cowers in the brillance of an epic film. any one who slates it should grow a heart

Todd

An absolutely beautiful film even though the violence was harsh at moments it cowers in the brillance of an epic film. any one who slates it should grow a heart

annette

What a great film! Mortensen is wonderful, tough yet with a certain vulnerability that makes the twist towards the end very believable.Brutal at times, this film engaged me throughout although the last two minutes were disappointing.Go see and enjoy!

Clou

Really enjoyed this film and loved the twist, although it was quite predictable from the beginning and wasn't pleased with the ending. Yeah she was happy, but did she end up with him? Did the old man go down? What happened to Kirril in the end???- assuming that Nikolai took the old mans place. Very good film, very gorey and there was one part that scared me and turned my stomach at the same time!!! Worth watching

Clou

Really enjoyed this film and loved the twist, although it was quite predictable from the beginning and wasn't pleased with the ending. Yeah she was happy, but did she end up with him? Did the old man go down? What happened to Kirril in the end???- assuming that Nikolai took the old mans place. Very good film, very gorey and there was one part that scared me and turned my stomach at the same time!!! Worth watching

critique

Engaging until the "twist" in the plot then loses its way. Mortensen is powerful and magnetic.

KingChumley

The fight scenes in this film were very good, however the film itself lacked a certain something. It seemed to be short on the depth of plot, and when the film ended, in my opinion quite abruptly, I was left feeling robbed. I couldn't believe the filmmakers didn't continue the storly line when good old Viggo sweeps into power. Maybe it is crying out for a sequel. Maybe they couldn't be bothered. Maybe I was robbed? who knows.

Jazmine Haigh

amazing film, dark disturbing. cinematic creation at its best. Must be seen at all cost for fans of the dirty mobster films.

Jazmine Haigh

amazing film, dark disturbing. cinematic creation at its best. Must be seen at all cost for fans of the dirty mobster films.

Paul C

Very enjoyable film, an 18 cert, so adults only should go Dave L! A great London film free of the usual backdrops, The scene in the baths is fantastic had the cinema on the edge of its seat. A must see film if you liked the last Bond and Bourne.

Paul C

Very enjoyable film, an 18 cert, so adults only should go Dave L! A great London film free of the usual backdrops, The scene in the baths is fantastic had the cinema on the edge of its seat. A must see film if you liked the last Bond and Bourne.

Dave L

Utterley disgusting film - totally gratuitous violence - the amount I could stomach was about 30 minutes.

Christopher Levett

It felt somehow too English - convenient resolutions conspiring to smooth over what ought to have been complex developments. But there were some lovely bits of visceral Cronenberg: the Finsbury baths scene and the way he deals with the baby taking her first breaths, Mortensen is good - the whole film hangs on him - but the ambiguity of his character just isn't ambiguous enough, and the image of Anna and Nicolai on her old motorcycle dashing through the London night seemed rooted in more innocent times.

Bob

I preferred Steve Knight's ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ Cronenberg's ‘Spider’ and ‘A History of Violence’. There was a little too much of Borat in Vincent Cassel's character. Nevertheless, worth seeing if you have a strong stomach.

Alison C

Eastern Promises took top billing at the BFI London Film Festival for very good reasons. A gritty tale set in a London not often shown on the big screen and with a robust cast to deliver scenes of passion together with some trademark David Cronenberg art-house gore. There's something for everyone in this film: blood, beatings and underground tales, a dirty bedroom scene, a lesson in love and morality and Viggo Mortensen naked.

Alison C

Eastern Promises took top billing at the BFI London Film Festival for very good reasons. A gritty tale set in a London not often shown on the big screen and with a robust cast to deliver scenes of passion together with some trademark David Cronenberg art-house gore. There's something for everyone in this film: blood, beatings and underground tales, a dirty bedroom scene, a lesson in love and morality and Viggo Mortensen naked.

Ulices Hernandez

I just got home, from this movie, guys what a great film!!!! Super acting, very moving part that touched me professionally as a nurse, any of you will be disappointed, the money is worthy million times... I would love to see it again.

Ulices Hernandez

I just got home, from this movie, guys what a great film!!!! Super acting, very moving part that touched me professionally as a nurse, any of you will be disappointed, the money is worthy million times... I would love to see it again.

NJJOANY

Saw movie, Cronenberg & Screenwriter, Knight at the director's Guild Theater in NYC on 9/13/07. Audience was amazingly still until the end when everyone errupted in applause. Of course it's violent but the acting is surperb; the casting is flawless & the direction is great. I would have liked a little more at the end to answer a few more questions. but all in all, it should be nominated for an Academy Award for sure.

NJJOANY

Saw movie, Cronenberg & Screenwriter, Knight at the director's Guild Theater in NYC on 9/13/07. Audience was amazingly still until the end when everyone errupted in applause. Of course it's violent but the acting is surperb; the casting is flawless & the direction is great. I would have liked a little more at the end to answer a few more questions. but all in all, it should be nominated for an Academy Award for sure.