Thursday, November 25, 2010

You Haven't Seen This Yet??? - Eastern Promises

Plot: The mysterious and charismatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin is a driver for one of London's most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin. The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon, whose courtly charm as the welcoming proprietor of the plush Trans-Siberian restaurant impeccably masks a cold and brutal core, the family's fortunes are tested by Semyon's volatile son and enforcer, Kirill, who is more tightly bound to Nikolai than to his own father. But Nikolai's carefully maintained existence is jarred once he crosses paths at Christmastime with Anna Khitrova, a midwife at a North London hospital. Anna is deeply affected by the desperate situation of a young teenager who dies while giving birth to a baby. Anna resolves to try to trace the baby's lineage and relatives. The girl's personal diary also survives her; it is written in Russian, and Anna seeks answers in it. Anna's mother Helen does not discourage her, but Anna's irascible Russian-born uncle Stepan urges caution. He is right to do so; by delving into the diary, Anna has accidentally unleashed the full fury of the Vory. With Semyon and Kirill closing ranks and Anna pressing her inquiries, Nikolai unexpectedly finds his loyalties divided. The family tightens its grip on him; who can, or should, he trust? Several lives - including his own - hang in the balance as a harrowing chain of murder, deceit, and retribution reverberates through the darkest corners of both the family and London itself. via.

Matt's Rating: A-

Why Matt is Appalled That Nicole Has Never Seen It: It's not so much that I'm appalled she hasn't seen it, but rather I think she SHOULD see it. Knowing Nicole, I know that she loves dark and grimy films. And you don't get much grimier than Eastern Promises. Its subject matter is dark, the characters are dark, and it's a typical gory Cronenberg film. I was very hesitant to see this movie at first because I thought Viggo Mortensen was getting over hyped for his performance in the LOTR trilogy and I didn't really like the last Cronenberg/Mortensen movie, A History of Violence. However, Eastern Promises allowed me to completely change my stance on Mortensen (and consequently when I watched A History of Violence a second time I liked it). I'm also a sucker for a good gritty mafia/crime drama. But what makes Eastern Promises more than a Russian mob story is its characters and writing. I found myself deeply invested in Naomi Watts' character and clinging to the edge of my seat for most the movie. Simply put, it's a intelligently written and masterfully acted crime piece.

Nicole's Rating: A-

Nicole's Review: Okay, okay. First thing's first and let's just get this out of the way so I can get into a serious-ish review: VIGGO Mortensen PEEN. And like, lots of it. I'm not lying when I say I waited the entire movie for it. And it was a fight scene.

Okay, seriously now. Good movie! This movie had so much of everything I love. Violence! Russians! Brits! Viggo being hot and mysterious! And sort of evil, but wait - is he really?! Naomi Watts' character was the only thing that bothered me about the movie. Her acting as well - up against the other actors, she just fell short. But I thought her character was pretty much the worst. She made so many dumb decisions and mistakes that could have been avoided by just using COMMON SENSE. I mean, come on Naomi, the creepy old Russian man is suddenly showing a crazy interest in the diary? DON'T BRING IT TO HIM! And then, all of a sudden, he insists on following you home? DON'T GET IN THE CAR WITH HIS DRIVER! Oh, nope. She does anyway. And then it's like - 'aw bloody 'ell, 'ow'd I get caught up in the Russian mafia?' Really?

I also found a lot of the beginning a little bit confusing. There was great significance placed on tattoos telling a story, but I really wasn't sure what story the tattoos were telling until the very end of the movie. I don't know if this was intentional, but I had a feeling I was supposed to get it somewhere near the beginning.

That aside, the movie was really well written and very well acted. Especially by Viggo Mortenson and Vincent Cassel. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. And so grossed out by some scenes... seriously. Just the sort of shit I'm into.

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