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EASTERN PROMISES

 Grade: B+

 
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General Information

Genre: Art/Foreign, Drama, Thriller and Crime/Gangster 
Running Time: 100 min. 
Release Date: 09/14/2007 (Wide) 

MPAA Rating: R for Strong brutal and bloody violence, some graphic sexuality, language and nudity.

Distributor: Focus Features 

 The mysterious and charismatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen) 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 (Academy Award nominee Armin Mueller-Stahl), 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 (Vincent Cassel), 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 (Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts), 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 (Sinťad Cusack) does not discourage her, but Anna's irascible Russian-born uncle Stepan (Jerzy Skolimowski) 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.

Member Reviews

He's not Aragorn any more!

This is a rather intense movie, both from an emotional and violent point of view. In the beginning of the film, Nikolai (Mortensen) projects himself as little more than a tough, cold, calculating son-of-a-bitch. However, as situations present themselves and the story progresses we begin to see that there is a difference between the man and what he does for a job. Much like a soldier who finds there are times for great compassion and times for great brutality; Nikolai is a soldier for the Russian mafia in London. And I wonít even get into the way youíll be twisted by the plot before the movie ends because that would spoil the fun for you.

Clearly the best film Iíve seen Mortensen in since the Lord of The Rings, the story and supporting actors gave him an opportunity to really shine. The screenplay and cinematography are noteworthy as well. Eastern Promises is a dark and dirty tale of dark and dirty secrets, brilliantly exposed on the screen.

Grade: B+
12/29/2007 - Bob Stanza
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Grade: B+
01/23/2008 - Patricia Mistric
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