Eastern Promises

YEAR: 2007

WRITER: Steven Knight

DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg

BUDGET: $25 million (pounds)

GROSS: $16,866,286 as of September 27th 2007

last post, and podcast, i talked about the gore verbinski film, The Weather Man, and about how the trailers, in an effort to be more general and hollywood, didn't do the film justice and probably alienated the audience that would have appreciated the film.  There is something similar to be said about the new david cronenberg film, Eastern Promises, in the sense that it is a hard movie to make a trailer for.

i mean, i had seen the trailer a bunch of times, and to be honest, i really had very little idea what the movie was about besides the fact that there was russian mafia elements, a baby and a diary.  that was fine with me though (they give away way too much in trailers these days anyway).  However, the point is that i think this might be a reason why more people haven't seen this film.  all i had to see was 'from director david cronnberg' and i was interested, but for the general populous that is probably not enough.

i am not saying that cronenberg is one of my favorite directors, but i have appreciated some of his work in the past and with A History Of Violence he seemed to really grow as a film maker, so i was quite interested to see what he would do with Eastern Promises. 

what he did was put together one of the best films of the year, and in my opinion, his best film ever.  Eastern Promises is a subtle and paced crime drama that cares just as much about the slow moments and the character drama as it does for any violence that takes place.

i found the film to be very stylized, but not in its look.  sure, it looks good, but it's not like he is doing anything crazy or different with color or camera or lighting that will make it stand out in your head.  in this case the stylization for me came in the films pace, and in relation to that in the films dialogue and flow. 

this isn't a fast talking/wordy crime drama.  this is a deliberately paced film where the character seem to actually be thinking about what they might say or genuinely reacting to what someone else has said or done. 

all the performances are good, but viggo mortensen and armin meuller-stahl really stand out, and their performances, especially viggo's, seems almost effortless.  viggo has a lot going on in this film and manages to play the character with an outer simplicity and an inner depth that stood out for me even more thinking about the film the next day.  i have been a fan of meuller-stahl since Shine and he doesn't disappoint either.  both are roles that could have been played very 'showy' in the hands of another director and/or script.  but cronenberg doesn't go for that.

i don't even know if it was an intentional thing on behalf of cronenberg and/or the actors, but it all works so well within the context of the story and film and with an ending that doesn't just wrap everything up i felt initially a little disappointed (just for a moment) and then very satisfied with how it left things.