Friday, December 21, 2007

Eastern Promises DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Russian Mob Splatter Flick from David Cronenberg Due on DVD

It’s Christmastime in London, where midwife Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) is living at home with her with her mother (Sinead Cusack) after suffering a miscarriage and being abandoned by her doctor boyfriend. That helps explain why she becomes so moved by the death during childbirth of a 14 year-old patient (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse) who had staggered into the hospital alone and already in labor.
Learning that the young girl kept a diary, Anna surreptitiously pockets the journal with hopes of finding the baby’s father. But because the entries are all written in Russian, she has to enlist the assistance of her Uncle Stepan (Jerzy Skolimowski) for a translation. However, when he flatly declines, the still determined Good Samaritan decides to pursue the only lead she can decipher on her own, namely, a business card left stuck in the book.
The lead takes her to the trendy Trans-Siberian restaurant, an establishment run by a ruthless mobster named Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) with the help of his enforcer son, Kirill (Victor Cassel), and Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), a chauffeur skilled at cleaning clues off corpses. Unaware that the place is a front for a brutal crime family trafficking in contraband and sex slaves, Anna is naively duped by the proprietor’s affable overtures into leaving the incriminating diary with him for safekeeping.
Consequently, it isn’t long before she finds herself on the run from goons intent on eliminating her and anyone else who might be able link the baby back to the illicit operation. So unfolds Eastern Promises, a primal splatter flick courtesy of David Cronenberg.
The movie might best be described as a relentlessly-haunting saga of Shakespearean proportions, only arriving overlaid with many of the generic elements of the gratuitously-gruesome gangster genre. A mesmerizing thriller designed with a penchant for lingering depictions of utter depravity.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for frontal nudity, profanity, gruesome violence and graphic sexuality.
Running time: 101 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: A couple of behind the scenes featurettes by director David Cronenberg.

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