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Oct 3, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Eastern Promises

Every once in a while, I'll see a great film that leaves me more or less speechless. This isn't some gasp over how great it is or due to shock or anything, but for whatever reason, it just doesn't leave me overflowing with criticism (in the general sense). This may be a lacking on my part to be able to successfully apply critical thinking to all mediums and articles, or perhaps it's a flaw in the film that it just doesn't give you much material in terms of theme or tone. Or maybe it's just because sometimes I'm content admiring the quiet beauty that comes with watching Patrick Swayze perform martial artsy yoga in Roadhouse.

Eastern Promises is one of these films that leaves me lacking a response. To be sure, it's very good, if not great. It demonstrates the power of loyalty, brotherhood, family, motherhood and a myriad of other topics that have been covered by many a mob picture before it. The fresh part this time, as simple as it is, is that it centers on a Russian family that resides in London. That alone is enough to get my attention, as we North Americans can be pounded over the head only so many times by all of the films/TV shows about New York/Chicago/Philly Italian mafia families (or Boston Irish ones, trying to catch up).

Separate from that are a number of strong, if quiet, performances given by the cast, with character-actors-trapped-in-star-bodies Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts leading the way. Mortensen is all but unrecognizable as anything but this Russian mobster - Viggo has clearly entered the Daniel Day-Lewis level of acting, in terms of skill and immersion into a character. However, you'll get no "Hoo-ah!" speeches or any other look-at-me moments (you'll get to see plenty of him anyway during the now infamous bathhouse scene); instead, you'll often be forced to pay close attention to what he's saying, lest you miss anything. Outside of the Fredo-ish character played by Vincent Cassel, the silent/dangerous theme stays constant.

Since I really have nothing else to add here, let me just say that I thought it was funny that the three main Russian mobster characters were all played by non-Russians. Mortensen is a half-Danish American, Cassel is French, and Armin Mueller-Stahl is German. I'd have to ask a Russian to be sure, but it felt like they all nailed their parts. Weird.

For a more in-depth review, I direct you to the entry over at John's Movie Blog. He takes it all serious and stuff. As for me? Maybe next time.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"It's in the hole!"

6 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Eastern Promises"

Anonymous said...

it's unfortunate that after saying "strong performances from actors viggo mortensen AND naomi watts leading the way", you've followed suit with most people and fallen into the trap of ga-ga'ing mortensen alone, and forgotten to say anything further about the equally fine if not better performance of watts. regards.

Fletch said...

He did the heavy lifting here, my friend, and rightfully deserves more kudos than she (or Cassel or Mueller-Stahl, for that matter).

DCMovieGirl said...

I had feeling this would be a good one. :)

This is one of the few flicks I actually want to see right now.

We're in a bit of dry spell, wouldn't you say?

Fletch said...

A seeeerious dry spell. But Fistful of Quarters just hit a theater here, so I've got that going for me. There are a couple others out I'd like to see (Valley of Elah, Jesse James), but that's about it right now.

Matt said...

This one looks too good to pass up but I'll probably wait for the dvd. Right now I'm going to see In the Shadow of the Moon. It's usually not my type of movie (documentary) but the little I saw of it on The Colbert Report hooked me.

Fletch said...

DVD is fine for this one, though you ought to see it before awards season.