Eastern Promises

Engrossing. Apparently, despite the 18 rating and the quite explicit advertising, customers at the theatre we attend, had been complaining over the content of this movie. It’s a Russian mob movie. Do you expect peaches and cream? There were several hiding behind my hands moments, most especially when the knives and razors come out. The violence was mainly explosive and fleeting with the exception of the bath house scene which lasted for several minutes. That scene in particular had a very overt sexual dynamic. The homoeroticism was effectively used to exaggerate the vulnerability of Viggo’s character at the same time as threatening the machismo of the clothed assassins. This isn’t a movie I’d say I ‘enjoyed’ but I found certain performances compelling and the meandering way the tale is told with flashes of extreme violence sucked me right in.

Viggo Mortensen was so scary yet there was an under current of warmth and human affection running under the surface that it was quite a surprise to think about just how nuanced a character he was playing. Armin Mueller-Stahl was disgustingly good as the fatherly mob boss who is really utterly evil. Naomi Watts had the most thankless role in the movie but acquitted herself well. As for Vincent Cassel, isn’t this baffoonish drunken lout he continually plays becoming a bit trite? The sexual tension between Cassel and Mortensen was well leveraged to great effect and watching them prowl around, each manipulating the other just by their mere physical presence, in an attempt to get what they need, kept me engaged.

Current temperature: here 3C/37F, there 39F/4C

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