Eastern Promises (2007)
In lieu of reviewing the new David Cronenberg film, Eastern Promises, Alison Willmore and I discussed it at length on a recent episode of The IFC News Podcast. Here, now, some brief (and HEAVILY SPOILER-LADEN) additional thoughts.
-We addressed the Hitchcockian-ness of the film in general on the podcast, but Eastern Promises may just be one giant Psycho homage. Think about it: you have your blonde femme lead who gets drawn into an underworld of murder and graft. And though she doesn't die at the film's midpoint, she is largely shunted to the background, as the film shifts perspectives to focus on the mysterious male lead played by Viggo Mortensen. There is even an we-don't-know-what-we-think-we-know revelation about Mortensen's character late in the game. It's not much of a deep reading to equate the famous shower scene with the destined-to-be-famous bathhouse scene, either. I'm not saying this is another Van Santian recreation, but there are definitely interesting parallels.
-Can you imagine how much it must suck to be Vincent Cassel in those scenes opposite Viggo Mortensen? Viggo's got this incredibly believable accent and Cassel...well, Cassel just doesn't. How rough must it be doing those scenes with him and knowing you're going to sound like an actor doing a bad approximation of an accent? Then again, that may contributed to the weird awkward tension between them in the film, which adds a nice dimension to the characters' relationship.
-Proposed topic for scholarly essay: comparing Cronenberg's London to Woody Allen's in Match Point.
-Red liquids, whether they're blood or borscht, are the dominant visual motif.
-Where A History of Violence was the story of one family, Eastern Promises is the story of two: both missing a parent (Watts' family is short a father; the Russian mob's is missing a mom), both controlled by centuries old traditions.
-Though I really enjoyed the movie I have to say: Naomi Watts' character is titanically stupid.