DVD EASTERN PROMISES [Blu-ray]  [1 disc] [Region 2] (DVD 4683216),
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EASTERN PROMISES [Blu-ray]  [1 disc] [Region 2]
Region 2 Europe+ (
David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen follow up 2005's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE with another joint effort in EASTERN PROMISES. The film takes place in rainswept London, with Mortensen effortlessly inhabiting the role of a chauffeur (named Nikolai) for the Russian Mafia. The stoic Nikolai works for restaurant owner and powerful Mafia kingpin Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his out-of-control son Kirill (Vincent Cassel). Cronenberg adds a few generous splashes of blood-red to his otherwise deeply grey cinematic palette as the movie begins, then allows his central storyline to unfold. Midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) comes crashing into Nikolai's life after discovering the diary of a young Russian woman who dies while giving birth, and her dealings with Semyon, and a subsequent translation of the diary, provide some horrific discoveries. Anna soon finds herself floundering in an alien world full of brutal and bloody violence, and it's not long before her own life hangs perilously in the balance.
Fans of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE will find much to enjoy here, as will longstanding Cronenberg fans who have stuck with the director since his early low-budget horror days. Plenty of themes, ideas, and obsessions that have run right through the director's body of work are present, and he appears to have found a very effective muse in Mortensen. The chief talking points of the film will almost certainly revolve around Mortensen's extended nude sequence and the graphic killings and fight sequences, but EASTERN PROMISES is a weighty piece of work that will undoubtedly attract fans of intelligent, well-crafted thrillers.
Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent Cassel
3 stars out of 4 -- "EASTERN PROMISES has a compelling story and strong performances....Provocative and engrossing, with an intriguing twist near the conclusion."
4 stars out of 5 -- "[H]ynotic and queasy, it delivers the director's trademark traumas in abundance."
3 stars out of 5 -- "[Cronenberg] revels in the detail, fascinated by conflicted nostalgia for the old country and the tattoos that ensure a Russian gangster's past is permanently etched into his body..."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Brilliant film. Brilliant director....Cronenberg brings us face to face with the horror of self."
"[I]ntriguing....EASTERN PROMISES unpeels like an onion of corruption, with double crosses and deceptions, and ordinary do-gooders in way over their heads. Cronenberg's craftsmanship is seductive." -- Grade: B
"Expertly realized and gummetal slick, EASTERN PROMISES whirs along with perfect efficiency..."
Los Angeles Times
Ranked #4 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "[A] brutally mesmeric tale of the Russian mob in London."
"Mr. Cronenberg insists on getting under your skin. The result is a movie whose images and implications are likely to stay in your head for a long time."
New York Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] distinctive new spin on the London crime yarn: a bleak, unsettling thriller that's nightmare made flesh."
"The continuity between EASTERN PROMISES and Cronenberg's early works is maintained through two themes: violence and the body. The violence in EASTERN PROMISES is at times breathtakingly brutal..."
Sight and Sound
4 stars out of 5 -- "The excellent Mortensen is utterly mesmeric....A darkly unforgettable crime thriller..."
"David Cronenberg's harsh but powerful film conjures up a violent world of bottomless evil, yet holds out, through Anna and Ms. Watts's lovely performance, the possibility of doing good."
Wall Street Journal
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