It's time for one of my 50 favorite movies. This week it's 2007's "EASTERN PROMISES"
Anna (Naomi Watts) is a midwife at a hospital in London. One evening she delivers the baby of a 14 year old Russian girl who dies during the birth, leaving the baby without a name or a family. Anna wants to keeps the baby from the foster care system by finding the girls family. Her only clue is a diary written in Russian she finds in the young girl's purse.
Even though Anna herself is Russian, her grasp of the language is minimal. She decides to have the diary translated. She takes it to a Russian restaurant whose card she finds tucked within the diary.
That one decision catapults Anna into the dangerous world of the bratva. Her steadfast advocacy and foolhardy over-confidence renders her oblivious to the jeopardy she has put herself in.
When she crosses paths with Nickolai (Viggo Mortensen), the driver and "clean-up man" for the family, she finally realizes her mistake and the threat becomes all too real.
"EASTERN PROMISES" is a dark, violent glimpse into Russian organized crime and human nature. A view of the lengths that people will go to retain a sense of belonging.
There are brief moments of charity and grasping towards goodness to thwart the unending violence.
Viggo Mortensen's performance was electric. His ability to absorb a character and reflect it back flawlessly & convincingly is a wonder to behold. I believed every word he uttered. It was mesmerizing. Vincent Cassel plays Kirill, Nikolai's boss. He played his pitiful character to perfection. You were equally drawn in and repelled.
No doubt , "EASTERN PROMISES" is not for everyone. It is gritty & extremely violent, but so is the subject matter.
I think the reason "EASTERN PROMISES" is on my 50 favorite list is the depth of character development and cleverly written story. Grant it, the violence is in your face, but the story requires it. Also it does have an unexpected twist that was brilliantly concealed.
Viggo Mortensen was top notch. I don't think anyone else could make a naked, fight to the death a teeny bit sexy. (What can I say?)
"EASTERN PROMISES' is not for the faint of heart, or the squeamish. But if you are game for a gritty romp..have at it.