Thursday, February 14, 2008

Week 35: Eastern Promises

I’ve been complaining for a long time that nobody makes a good thriller anymore. And while I wouldn’t exactly categorize Eastern Promises as a thriller, it’s in the ballpark, and it’s surprisingly good. To be honest, I had NO IDEA what this movie was about. I had some vague idea it was another drab movie about demure Japanese people trapped in emotionless relationships. Was I confusing this with the Painted Veil? Perhaps. The point is that I was completely misinformed.

Turns out that Easter Promises is about a maternity nurse (Naomi Watts) who gets mixed up with the Russian mafia when she begins to investigate the death of a 14-year-old girl who delivered a baby in her hospital ward. Watts is perhaps underutilized but it doesn't really matter because Viggo Mortensen (insert dreamy sigh here) is the real star of the film, playing the driver for the mafia boss who becomes entangled with Watts as she pursues the girl’s rapist. I won’t spoil the twists and turns involving Viggo’s character, but there are a few whoppers and I didn’t see them coming (how I love to be surprised).

David Cronenberg directs (he and Viggo worked together on a History of Violence) and the vibe between the two movies is much the same. There is a lot of gruesome violence, some of which feels unnecessary. And, oh yes, you might have heard that there is a Viggo full-frontal nudity scene as well. It’s uh…interesting. He happens to be naked while he’s getting the shit kicked out of him in a bath house, so it’s not exactly “good naked" (insert disappointed sigh here).

We thought this was a very enjoyable movie. Good intrigue. Great acting. Almost thrilling. I almost love it.

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