Media Maven: “Eastern Promises”

Media Maven: “Eastern Promises”

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Eastern Promises
Viggo Mortenson, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl

Within the first eight minutes of this movie, a man’s neck gets sliced with a barber’s razor; blood splaying as the man writhes to his death in the barber chair. Twenty minutes later, Viggo Mortenson as the Russian Mob’s henchman, finishes the corpse off by cutting each of the deceased’s fingers and removing his teeth before depositing him in to the river.

Eastern Promises is the critically acclaimed film by director David Cronenberg. It graphically tells the age-old stories of good versus evil; family loyalty vs. allegiance with a conscience, and finally what it means to live with the choices people make.

Naomi Watts is a midwife who delivers a baby from a fourteen-year-old indigent who dies immediately after giving birth. While connecting the dots of the victim’s history in order to give the baby a birthright, Watts unravels a tightly woven organization involving prostitution, drug trafficking and assassinations.

The intensity of this movie is matched by its graphic portrayal of life in a world so far removed from suburbia. Mortenson is a machine of uncanny precision and accuracy. His every move is deliberate as a devoted subordinate of the Russian mob. His solid performance is amazing in the daunting scenes Mortenson gives in fulfilling his duties as the “chauffer” to this ruthless clan.

The film’s story was compelling. A captive audience was riveted in their seats to discover the all too tidy outcome for the orphaned child. Watts’ character repeatedly challenges Mortenson’s actions by reminding him the pregnant teen was only fourteen years old. Mortenson’s reply of “I’m only the driver,” was about as convincing as Jerry Springer saying “I’m only the host of a silly little talk show.”

Here lies the tremendous difference from this movie. Jerry Springer rides the crest of celebrity, while airing the misery of frustrated human beings and simultaneously amassing a personal fortune.

Mortenson’s character rides no wave of celebrity, yet remains a man haunted by his choices. Ensconced in a life of luxury paid for by human prostitution and annihilation, Mortenson’s character is left alone contemplating the irreversible human damage done by his own hands.

Not for the weak hearted. This movie is beyond graphically violent.

Rating: Three Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.